UK army to get their first laser weapon thanks to Raytheon

The Ministry of Defense will receive its first directed high-energy laser weapon system thanks to a collaboration with the UK wing of defense giant Raytheon.
Christopher McFadden
The weapon will be mounted on a UK "Wolfhound" armored vehicle.

Raytheon UK 

United Kingdom armed forces will receive its first laser weapon in October this year (2023) thanks to a collaboration with Raytheon UK, the company has announced in a press release. A subsidiary of RTX's Raytheon UK, the high-energy laser weapon system will be integrated into the UK's "Wolfhound" armored vehicle. The UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD) "Land Demonstrator Program" has developed a 15-kilowatt laser to prevent aerial threats from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

First for UK

The "Wolfhound" is a "Mastiff" truck with six wheels designed to offer greater protection for troops operating in high-risk environments. This heavy-duty vehicle is part of the "Tactical Support Vehicles" (TSV) group, which also includes the "Husky" and the "Coyote." The TSV fleet accompanies front-line patrols and transports supplies such as water and ammunition. The "Wolfhound" can be used for various tasks, including moving large quantities of supplies to build forward bases and serving as a gun tractor and gun limber for the Royal Artillery's 105 light gun. It has a 7.62 general-purpose machine gun (GPMG) self-defense weapon and standard radio and electronic equipment.

“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,” explained 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," she added.

The high-energy laser weapon system has been tested multiple times in the field and has performed as intended, even in harsh weather conditions such as extreme heat, cold, rain, sleet, and snow. In a recent four-day live-fire exercise in the United States, the system acquired, tracked, targeted, and destroyed numerous drone targets in various attack scenarios, including short-range attacks, swarm attacks, and long-range threats.

Raytheon's high-energy laser weapon system is small, versatile, and can be fitted onto different platforms. It can also be easily linked to other air defense systems. With a "deep," rechargeable magazine and minimal need for logistics, this laser weapon is a reasonable and practical choice for safeguarding military and essential infrastructure and quickly defeating threats. The system, Raytheon UK explains, provides an almost endless supply of shots and exceptional precision, with very little accidental damage, making it a cost-effective substitute for traditional munitions.

Strength to strength

In its press release, the company explains how it is expanding on the success of its US investment, having delivered eight high-energy laser weapons to the US military. These systems have successfully defeated over 400 targets during 25,000 operational hours.

"Raytheon has developed the enabling technologies, as well as complete and customizable systems, that enable military and civilian customers to defeat complex UAS threats in any environment. The company has developed integrated, high-performing sensors and cost-effective kinetic and non-kinetic effectors to defeat threats more efficiently. This provides the ability to select the right effectors against a range of threats," explains Raytheon.

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