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DSEI 2023: UK to test high-energy laser

Raytheon Multispectral Targeting System pod being used for the 15 kW high-energy laser. (Janes/Andrew Galer)

Raytheon UK is set to receive a high-energy laser weapon system to be tested and integrated in the United Kingdom in the third quarter of 2024, the company announced at DSEI 2023 in London.

The system is designed to counter small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and is the latest development in the UK Ministry of Defence's Land Demonstrator programme. Raytheon UK was contracted in 2021 to develop and install the laser system on a Wolfhound armoured vehicle as part of a palletised system.

The 15 kW combined fibre laser has been incorporated into the Raytheon Multispectral Targeting System and is controlled via a game's console-style controller that users can be trained to operate within two to three weeks, Alex Rose-Parfitt, engineering director at Raytheon UK, told Janes .

Four Raytheon laser systems have been under test with the US Air Force since 2019 and four more 55 kW lasers are being tested by the US Army integrated onto Stryker vehicles – it is understood that this capability is already deployed. There has been no announcement on the further production of systems, but it is understood that Raytheon has sourced long lead time components and that production timelines are shorter than conventional munitions.

The high-energy laser weapon system has undergone multiple field tests, including in difficult weather conditions with extreme heat, cold, rain, sleet, and snow. During four days of live-fire exercises earlier in 2023 in the United States, the system successfully acquired, tracked, targeted, and destroyed dozens of short-range targets, a three-target swarm attack, and long-range threat scenarios, Rose-Parfitt said.

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