Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Raytheon to integrate UK’s first laser weapon on patrol vehicle

Raytheon UK is set to receive its first high-energy laser weapon system to be tested and integrated in the United Kingdom, marking a significant advancement in understanding how such systems can be fielded.

The 15-kilowatt laser is the latest development in the UK Ministry of Defence’s Land Demonstrator program. The laser system is designed to stop aerial threats such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Raytheon UK was contracted in 2021 to develop and install the laser system on a UK Wolfhound armored vehicle. This heavy-duty vehicle is part of the “Tactical Support Vehicles” (TSV) group and is designed to offer greater protection for troops operating in high-risk environments.

With a deep, rechargeable magazine and minimal logistics, Raytheon’s high-energy laser weapon system is an affordable and viable option to protect military and critical infrastructure and rapidly defeat threats. It can be easily installed on various platforms and seamlessly integrated with other air defense systems. The system offers an almost unlimited number of shots and precise accuracy with minimal collateral damage. Its compact design and portability make it a practical option for military operations, providing a more affordable and sustainable alternative to traditional munitions.

According to Raytheon UK, the laser system has already undergone multiple field tests, including in difficult weather conditions with extreme heat, cold, rain, sleet, and snow, earlier this year in the United States. During four days of live-fire exercises, the system successfully acquired, tracked, targeted and destroyed dozens of drone targets in short-range attack, swarm attack, and long-range threat scenarios.

The new laser benefits from experience gained in developing a total of eight high-energy laser weapons delivered to the U.S. military. These systems have defeated more than 400 targets over 25,000 operational hours.

“The arrival of this transformative technology is an important milestone in our collaboration with the MoD on using directed energy to address a variety of threats, from drones and UAVs to more complex missile systems,” said Julie Finlayson-Odell, managing director of weapons and sensors at Raytheon UK. “This system is a culmination of decades of investment, research, and innovation, and its arrival reflects our continued commitment to helping fulfill a key strategic objective of the UK’s Integrated Review, which is to understand how directed energy weapons can safely and effectively operate alongside other elements of the UK’s armed forces.”

The delivery of the first system to the UK 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.