The MBDA-led UK Dragonfire consortium has secured a contract from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to produce a laser directed energy weapon (LDEW) capability demonstrator.
Under the £30m contract, the consortium will explore different technologies and approaches to develop the 50kW laser energy weapon.
It will also test its capability to detect and track targets at various ranges and in different weather conditions over land and water.
UK Defence Procurement Minister Harriet Baldwin said: “The UK has long enjoyed a reputation as a world leader in innovation and it is truly ground-breaking projects like the Laser Directed Energy Weapon which will keep this country ahead of the curve.
“The Defence Innovation Initiative and £800m Defence Innovation Fund aim to encourage imagination, ingenuity and entrepreneurship, in pursuit of maintaining a military advantage in the future.
“With a rising Defence budget, and a £178bn equipment plan, our commitment to innovation will deliver a safer and more prosperous Britain.”
The UK Dragonfire consortium was formed by an industrial team comprising of MBDA, QinetiQ, Leonardo-Finmeccanica GKN, Arke, BAE Systems, and Marshall ADG.
The first laser weapons are anticipated to enter service in the mid-2020s.