MBDA & Thales: Technology Developments
A new laser weapon demonstrator being built for the UK Ministry of Defence has been unveiled. Led by MBDA, under contract to Dstl, UK Dragonfire is a grouping of British industry brought together to develop this advanced and complex new programme for the UK Armed Forces. The consortium has revealed design of the turret – known as a beam director – that will be used to test this new technology. The beam director, which will be provided by Leonardo, brings together QinetiQ’s powerful laser emitter, as well as electro-optics for target identification and tracking. MBDA is bringing prime weapon system delivery experience and advanced weapon system command and control ( C2) and image processing capability to UK Dragonfire, in addition to co-ordinating the overall programme.
Known as the Laser Directed Energy Weapon ( LDEW) Capability Demonstrator Programme ( CDP), the effort will see UK Dragonfire test this new sovereign capability in the maritime and land domains in 2019. Among the uses of LDEW systems are providing very short-range air defence capability, closein protection for naval vessels, counter- unmanned aerial vehicle ( UAV), and protecting friendly forces from mortar and artillery attack. France’s defence procurement agency, the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), has accepted delivery to the French Armed Forces of the first batch of 50 missiles and 20 firing posts from the new MMP system, conducted between 15-23 November 2017. The Royal Navy has successfully conducted the final First of Class firing trials of the new Sea Ceptor air defence system – completing the qualification firings of this cutting-edge new capability for the Royal Navy. Following the first round of trials in the summer of 2017, the second set of trials from HMS Argyll saw the system tested against more complex scenarios, including rapidly engaging multiple simultaneous threats. With HMS Argyll having completed development testing of Sea Ceptor, the weapon system is now being rolled out to the Royal Navy’s other Type 23 Frigates. The first of a series of installation test firings has been successfully completed on HMS Westminster. Each Sea Ceptor platform will similarly complete an installation test firing in due course as they prepare to re-join frontline service after their refits.