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Lasers to Zap Drones

Computer Generated Image illustrating the use of DEW on a Wildcat helicopter. Crown copyright.

Defense

Lasers to Zap Drones

Counter-drone technology is rapidly evolving industry. The UK wants to take down enemy drones and missiles with high-energy light beam and is set to unleash ‘Star Wars-style’ laser cannons to shoot missiles and drones out of the sky. As per reports from The Sun, ‘Britain is going to invest £130m into these LASER cannons to blast drones and missiles out of the sky.’

Defence chiefs have revealed plans to develop state-of-the-art weapons strapped to helicopters and ships. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) also announced that it’s developing laser and radio frequency weapons. Referred to collectively as Direct Energy Weapons (DEW), they’re powered by electricity, operate without ammunition and are fuelled by a vehicle’s engine or a generator. Another type of Directed Energy Weapon – which uses concentrated radio frequencies – can scramble enemy computer systems are also being talked about. The MoD has signalled its intention to develop new “demonstrators” of both types of laser weapons this week.

The lasers would zap drones and missiles from the sky, and the radio frequency weapons could disrupt and disable enemy computers and electronics. According to the UK, the weapons have the potential to lower operating costs and provided “unprecedented flexibility.”

The UK expects these weapons to reach the front lines within 10 years, but first it will have to test them on Royal Navy ships and Army vehicles. Those trials could begin as soon as 2023.The deadly devices are set to be unleashed on the battlefield within a decade.

Plans for the drone-shooting lasers come after it was revealed today cops failed to tackle Gatwick Airport’s Christmas drone chaos because there were TWO devices flying. The airport was forced to close for more than 24 hours during the busy festive period last year since apparently Officers were only trained to deal with one at a time.

Later this year the MoD expects to announce ways in which companies can bid for funding to develop DEW weapons, which could one day be deployed on the frontline.

Top Brass are keen on the weapons as they do not use ammunition – making them cheap and effective. Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: “Laser and Radio Frequency technologies have the potential to revolutionise the battlefield by offering powerful and cost-effective weapons systems to our Armed Forces. This significant investment demonstrates our commitment to ensuring our Armed Forces operate at the forefront of military technology.”

Laser weaponry isn’t entirely new. In 2017, the UK invested £30 million in a laser prototype, and the US put its first laser into service way back in 2014. Though it currently emits non-lethal flashes to spook enemies or thwart their sensors, it is capable of destroying small aircraft.). Russia too is giving its soldiers bomb-carrying drones, other countries may look for counter measures. Laser guided weaponry isn’t too far away in the future.

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Cite this article as: Vidi Nene, "Lasers to Zap Drones," in DroneBelow.com, July 16, 2019, https://dronebelow.com/2019/07/16/lasers-to-zap-drones/.
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