DRAGONFIRE, primed by MBDA, under contract to Dstl, alongside a British industry team, is developing a advanced and complex new programme for the UK Armed Forces. For the first time, the consortium has revealed the design of the turret – known as a beam director – that will be used to trial this new technology. The beam director, which will be provided by Leonardo, brings together QinetiQ’s powerful laser emitter and electro-optics for target identification and tracking. MBDA is bringing weapon system experience and advanced weapon system command and control (C2) and image processing capability to DRAGONFIRE, in addition to co-ordinating the overall effort.
The full-scale beam director is present at UK DRAGONFIRE’s stand, at ND4 in the Naval Static Display Area. Half-scale models are also present on the stands of Leonardo, MBDA and QinetiQ.
Known as the Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) Capability Demonstrator Programme (CDP), the effort will see UK DRAGONFIRE trial 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, close-in protection for naval vessels, counter-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and protecting friendly forces from mortar and artillery attack.
A key benefit of the DRAGONFIRE LDEW technology is that the base system is highly adaptable and its effects are highly scaleable. As such it offers a range of different engagement solutions depending on the tactical scenario, these include tracking, deterring, dazzling the sensors of a potential threat, up to damaging or destroying it.