UK laser weapon demonstrator

UK plans to build and test a tactical laser weapon prototype have taken a step forward with the release of an invitation to tender (ITT) to industry.

According to Dstl, the aim of the capability demonstrator “is to enhance the United Kingdom’s understanding of the capability of laser-based weapon systems while demonstrating the ability of a high-power [LDEW] system to engage airborne and surface targets at operationally relevant ranges”.

Few specifics of the LDEW CD project have been released to date. However, Dstl has confirmed that the project demonstrations will be required to establish five key metrics: the ability to detect, acquire, and track targets at range and in varying weather conditions with sufficient precision; the ability to generate and precisely control a high-energy laser; control of the irradiance of the laser; management of power and cooling demands while enabling operation of the laser over a prolonged period; and control requirements, particularly managing the risks such that the laser is safe to operate.