DSEI NEWS: U.S. Counter-Drone Laser Transitioning to British Army
Raytheon UK photo
LONDON — A U.S.-made laser designed to shoot down aerial threats such as small drones is being sent to the United Kingdom for further testing.
RTX, formerly known as Raytheon Technologies, is sending its counterpart in the United Kingdom a 15-kilowatt high-energy laser that will be installed on the British army’s Wolfhound armored vehicle, according to a statement distributed at the DSEI trade show in London Sept. 12.
RTX’s subsidiary in the United Kingdom, Raytheon UK, was contracted in 2021 to develop and install the laser system on the Wolfhound. The technology transfer is part of the U.K. Ministry of Defence’s Land Demonstrator program.
Julie Finlayson-Odell, managing director of weapons and sensors at Raytheon UK, said, “This system is a culmination of decades of investment, research and innovation, and its arrival reflects our continued commitment to help fulfill a key strategic objective of the U.K.’s Integrated Review, which is to understand how directed energy weapons can safely and effectively operate alongside other elements of the U.K.’s armed forces.”
The weapon system has performed in multiple field tests, including in difficult weather conditions with extreme heat, cold, rain, sleet and snow. During four days of live-fire exercises earlier this year in the United States, the system successfully acquired, tracked, targeted and destroyed dozens of drone targets in short-range attack, swarm attack and long-range threat scenarios, the statement said.
Raytheon UK touted the laser weapon system as compact and portable, as well as the fact it can be installed on a variety of platforms and can connect to other air defense systems. Directed energy weapons have a deep, rechargeable magazine and minimal logistics, the statement said.
“This laser weapon is an affordable and viable option to protect military and critical infrastructure, and rapidly defeat threats. The system offers a nearly infinite number of shots and precision accuracy with very low collateral damage, making it an affordable alternative to traditional munitions,” the statement said.
A total of eight high-energy laser weapons have been delivered to the U.S. military. These systems have defeated more than 400 targets over 25,000 operational hours, Raytheon UK stated.
The delivery of the first system to the United Kingdom comes as Raytheon UK officially opens its new, advanced laser integration center in Livingston, Scotland. The center, first announced in July 2022, focuses on the testing, fielding and maintenance of Raytheon’s defensive laser weapons and is a regional hub established to ensure that laser weapons can be quickly fielded, maintained and repaired, the statement said.