Directed Energy Weapons

Contains threads on Joint Service equipment of the past, present and future.
NickC
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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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Naval News write up on DragonFire demonstrator and possible follow-on with comments from MBDA and Leonardo (but none from QineteQ that makes the actual laser), no mention if MOD will fund new contract for the second gen military grade DragonFire based on the lessons learned from the £100 million prototype contract . MOD/DE&S also funding Raytheon and Thales lasers.

MBDA system responsibility and the command and control and image processing capabilities;

"We’ve demonstrated military utility, and therefore the next step is how to take it to something that can be used by one of our armed forces"
"So for the sort of applications that we’re considering [in or roadmap] we know how we would approach that for producing multiple systems"
“Also, the current beam director was built to demonstrate the required capability and performance [but] there are massive opportunities to reduce size, weight and power.”


Leonardo build the beam director (fire control with ability to continuously track targets accurate to the millimetre

work would be required to ‘harden’ the system to make it suitable for fielding
we would need to improve reliability. We are currently using some COTS [commercial-off-the-shelf] equipment that would not survive the military environment
Leonardo is in parallel advancing the development of ‘military-grade’ fibre amplifiers with the aim of securing a sovereign UK capability
“What drives the need for this is the operating environment,” "COTS fibre lasers are designed to operate in a machine shop, which is a very temperature-controlled environment. You can’t control the military environment to that same level, and so the output power falls off
“So we’ve been working with Dstl on how we maximise the performance across a wider environmental band.”
The other key issue is vibration. “In a COTS amplifier, the fibre is taped down, and that’s not going to work if it’s on a [platform] with constant low frequency and high frequency vibration. So we’re developing techniques to ensure that the fibre in the system and all the optical components remain at optimal performance when subjected to those levels of vibration.”
Addressing these two issues also brings a massive increase in reliability. “It means we can offer reliability in the thousands [of hours] as opposed to the hundreds that you’ll get with COTS amplifiers” Leonardo has currently developed this technology to about TRL 5 in preparation for manufacture.

https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/20 ... pon-plans/



Ron5
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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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For all the laser experts out there, please note that Dragonfire is installed next to a radar guided Phalanx in the CG movie. Also in the picture are very expensive, clear weather only, EO directors on both the Phalanx systems and the ship itself (for the 30 mm guns).

RunningStrong
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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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Ron5 wrote: 11 Mar 2024, 14:23 For all the laser experts out there, please note that Dragonfire is installed next to a radar guided Phalanx in the CG movie. Also in the picture are very expensive, clear weather only, EO directors on both the Phalanx systems and the ship itself (for the 30 mm guns).
Electro-optic sensors work more than just in clear weather. As do Laser DEW.

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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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RunningStrong wrote: 11 Mar 2024, 14:39
Ron5 wrote: 11 Mar 2024, 14:23 For all the laser experts out there, please note that Dragonfire is installed next to a radar guided Phalanx in the CG movie. Also in the picture are very expensive, clear weather only, EO directors on both the Phalanx systems and the ship itself (for the 30 mm guns).
Electro-optic sensors work more than just in clear weather. As do Laser DEW.
The point you & others are missing is that lasers, & other EO kit, are not all weather yet have scads of value. Plenty of military kit is not all weather from the humble squadies's rifle and on up.

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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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Ron5 wrote: 11 Mar 2024, 18:54 The point you & others are missing is that lasers, & other EO kit, are not all weather yet have scads of value. Plenty of military kit is not all weather from the humble squadies's rifle and on up.
I'm not sure anyone has a clue what point you're trying to make.

Rifle is all weather, from coldest to hottest Def Stan, and every weather in-between.

I've not claimed LDEW aee all weather, neither have I said that's an issue. The enemy can't modify the weather to suit them. If a LDEW keeps the gun/missiles ready for when the LDEW can't be used then it's achieved its purpose.

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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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Interesting March 1st interview on Breaking Defense with the US Army Vice Chief of Staff on DE M-SHORAD lasers, sending their four 50 kW prototypes to the Middle East for real world testing to see if they work in an atmosphere with dust particles as it starts to alter the physics of the light particles that actually shoot that beam.

Disclosed 50 kW requirement was to burn through a quarter inch steel plate at 10 km (presuming power needed to target shells and mortar bombs) which needs 4 KW per centimetre on target "But that’s really hard to get … from a big beam to get the small portion of it on the exact spot to be able to burn at that high intensity and any kind of dust particle or that starts to disrupt that.”

The DE M-SHORAD is Inc 2 of their short range aid defense program which would be complimentary to their current in service M-SHORAD Inc 1 with its Stinger missiles and 30mm cannon, future upgrade to M-SHORAD is Inc 3 with the next-generation Stinger and 30mm proximity fused ammunition.

PS Makes no mention of testing DE M-SHORAD in rain and low cloud atmospheric conditions, Northern Europe conditions for 100+ days a year.

https://breakingdefense.com/2024/03/exc ... no-2-says/

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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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RunningStrong wrote: 11 Mar 2024, 19:17 Rifle is all weather, from coldest to hottest Def Stan, and every weather in-between.
I'm curious as to your accuracy with a rifle when its pissing down with rain and you can't see the target. Same goes for any armored vehicle guns.

Ron5
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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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RunningStrong wrote: 11 Mar 2024, 19:17 I'm not sure anyone has a clue what point you're trying to make.
Seems crystal clear to me:

"The point you & others are missing is that lasers, & other EO kit, are not all weather yet have scads of value."

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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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Ron5 wrote: 12 Mar 2024, 12:50
RunningStrong wrote: 11 Mar 2024, 19:17 Rifle is all weather, from coldest to hottest Def Stan, and every weather in-between.
I'm curious as to your accuracy with a rifle when its pissing down with rain and you can't see the target. Same goes for any armored vehicle guns.
I know you're a septic, but are you familiar with Sennybridge? Range below 300m is fighting in the mist. Doesn't mean you can't function the rifle.

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Tempest414
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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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Ron5 wrote: 12 Mar 2024, 12:50
RunningStrong wrote: 11 Mar 2024, 19:17 Rifle is all weather, from coldest to hottest Def Stan, and every weather in-between.
I'm curious as to your accuracy with a rifle when its pissing down with rain and you can't see the target. Same goes for any armored vehicle guns.
It would have to be very very hard rain not to see more than 200 meters as an Ex SATT member we carried drill in all weathers on small arms up to 300 meters including in snow fall

However had you said fog that makes it harder and the range comes down but the weapon still works

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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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So not all-weather then. So still carried by every infantryman in every army. Got it :roll:
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Tempest414
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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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This will change with thermo sights 4.00 in on the video

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Anthony58
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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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Is this rifle going to be adopted, by special forces and the rest of the UK armed forces?

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Tempest414
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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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Anthony58 wrote: 14 Mar 2024, 00:18 Is this rifle going to be adopted, by special forces and the rest of the UK armed forces?
So far it is just the RM and Rangers

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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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Thanks Tempest414

NickC
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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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January article on NavyTimes where quoted USN Vice Adm. Brendan McLane and others expressing frustration at the glacial pace of development with the long-planned and ever-elusive ship lasers when need them now in the Red Sea.

"High-energy lasers, or HELs, and high-power microwaves, or HPMs, would offer the surface fleet another weapon for countering overhead threats, including unmanned aerial vehicles and rockets. Despite decades of research and development, as well as billions of dollars spent for a threat like the one the Navy now faces in the Red Sea, such systems have yet to enter the surface fleet."

"The Defense Department has struggled to get “these technologies out of the lab and into the field”

"Finding a power source for directed-energy weapons as well as space for such systems on board a ship that is full of energy-hungry sensors and combat management systems is a serious roadblock"

"While lasers can punch holes through a variety of material, certain atmospheric conditions, such as fog or wind (haven't seen wind quoted before as limitation on use of laser) can impede or distort the shot."

"High-power microwaves can have near-instant frying effects on electronic guts, but they’re less effective at greater ranges."(in effect short range, how short haven't seen any figures, one km?)

“It’s incredibly challenging technologically, and the technology is always a step, or a few steps, away from where we would like it to be"

“Lasers are pretty effective, but they take time. You’ve got to have the laser shoot the drone for several seconds, which means it can only shoot one at a time. To be successful, especially in a swarm scenario with multiple kinds of threats overhead, a ship’s sensors would have to differentiate between higher-end targets that demand a kinetic hit and lower-end targets that a laser can manage. The crew aboard the Carney in December intercepted more than a dozen drones that U.S. Central Command described as a “wave” originating from Yemen."

Think the glacial pace of the long-planned and ever-elusive ship lasers reflects some of the operational reality of CIWS lasers, line of sight only, lasers will be slow to take out a target, so ship will need higher numbers of lasers fitted to combat a swarm of drones compared to number of kinetic weapons needed, take up more of the valuable and limited space on the weapons deck, will need to be an order of magnitude more accurate as need to hold laser beam to a few square cm per target for seconds which will be challenging and requiring an expensive fire control system, most damming will be useless in adverse atmospheric conditions so need backup weapon system and also require continuous high electric power load, so ships will have to be designed with additional generating power (reason USN used 16,000t USS Ponce and 25,000t Portland LPDs to test low power experimental lasers as they had the necessary power and space).

https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-nav ... gn=dfn-dnr

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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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Sending prototypes to Ukraine is the smartest part of this decision. Cannot ask for a better way to show how good a weapon is.

Should send more newer systems in small numbers to see how they work.
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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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Telegraph write up with some interesting details on the claims being made by Grant Shapps for DragonFire in the light of MBDA, Leonardo and QinetiQ saying during a recent briefing on how much work would be involved in turning the prototype into an operationally productionised version.

[quote]A laser capable of shooting down enemy drones and missiles will be on Royal Navy warships by 2027

During a trip to the DragonFire lab on Thursday, Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, said that the weapon, which can hit a £1 coin [23mm dia] from a kilometre away,

UK is planning to add DragonFire to its arsenal by 2027, but is working to see if it can send prototypes to Ukraine sooner – even if they are not 100 per cent refined.

The weapon works by focusing 37 channels of 1.5kW laser beams [55.5 kW] arranged in a hexagonal array, and combining them with mirrors to merge and amplify the power, a physics phenomenon known as constructive interference.

Tim Kendall, a DSTL senior laser physicist who helped build DragonFire, said this creates “a perfect laser beam” that can be fired out through a telescopic lens

Mr Shapps believes the system is powerful enough to neutralise faster-moving projectiles, such as ballistic missiles.

While the technology is not ready to be deployed in battle, Mr Shapps admitted that he is holding talks with military scientists about how Britain can drive forward DragonFire to be used on the ground in conflict.

He said: “2027 is the aim, but I want to look at every single aspect of this

The terrestrial version of DragonFire is still intended as a ground-based air defence technology and will be mounted on a truck, at which point British Army experts will give feedback on how it could be improved and highlight any problems. [/quote]


https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2024/0 ... ive-years/

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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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Seems the good Minister is placing most of his faith for the accelerated service date, in his new procurement rules. Specifically the rule that says immature kit should be put into service so that bugs can be ironed out in the field rather than the development lab.

Sounds fukking stupid to me but what do I know.

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Ian Hall
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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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Ron5 wrote: 13 Apr 2024, 13:38 but what do I know.
:clap:

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And also this is coming soon....
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Ron5
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Re: Directed Energy Weapons

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Ian Hall wrote: 13 Apr 2024, 20:11
Ron5 wrote: 13 Apr 2024, 13:38 but what do I know.
:clap:
I know a tad more after reading this:

PS still think that debugging a system on a deployed warship isn't the smartest idea around. After all, that was the approach taken with the Type 45 propulsion system. Saved oodles on money not testing it out onshore first. (Buff)Hoon must be very proud :roll:

Royal Navy plans to field DragonFire laser weapon from 2027
The UK Royal Navy is to begin fielding the DragonFire laser directed energy weapon (LDEW) systems from 2027 under an accelerated rollout plan announced on 12 April.

Richard Scott 14 Apr 2024

According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), acquisition reforms introduced this month with the start of 2024-25 financial year mean that a minimum deployable capability can now be rolled at much faster pace than before. It had previously been anticipated that LDEW weapons would not come into frontline service with the UK armed forces until 2032.

Contracted through the MoD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), DragonFire is a LDEW demonstrator developed by an MBDA UK-led team also including Leonardo and QinetiQ. The 50 kW-class system – which has been built to prove key LDEW technologies at a weapon system level, demonstrate the ability to acquire, track, engage and defeat relevant targets, and establish a credible sovereign UK capability – has completed a series of tracking and firing trials on MoD ranges since late 2021.

As leader of the UK DragonFire consortium, MBDA UK has taken overall system responsibility as well as developing command and control and image processing capabilities; Leonardo has built the beam director, which enables the LDEW system to point and track on moving targets with millimetric accuracy; while QinetiQ has provided the laser source, and developed coherent beam-combining technology designed to enhance power density and increase engagement range. Combined MoD/industry investment to dates aggregates to more than £100 million.

The DragonFire programme is being held up as a flagship example of the UK government’s new Integrated Procurement Model, which is designed to reform defence procurement and drive increased pace in the delivery of military capability. Announcing the decision to accelerate the LDEW programme, UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said that DragonFire will now rapidly evolve from a demonstration programme to an operational capability for the Royal Navy.

The next stages of this development will include further live firings and the manufacture and installation of weapon systems onto ship platforms. No details of contract awards, or detailed schedules, have been released.

The Royal Navy sees the DragonFire LDEW system as a potential low-cost alternative to self-defence missiles against certain threat sets (such as unmanned aerial vehicles and fast inshore attack craft). Information has yet to be released on planned ship fits, although it is understood that the planned investment will see installations across multiple vessels. The Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers are seen as likely candidates.

To meet the aggressive schedule laid out by the MoD, it is anticipated the ‘productionised’ DragonFire LDEW system will be closely derived from the demonstrator system, with significant redesign not anticipated. The system will have minimal integration to allow for rapid deployment, and is likely to have its own power storage system that can be charged by the ship’s main power. Final decisions will be made in the development phase.

Earlier this year the three UK DragonFire industry partners confirmed to Naval News that they were working to engineer ‘productised’ LDEW designs based on the modular architecture of the demonstrator system. This included work to scale up or down power, and also activity required to ‘harden’ the system to make it suitable for fielding.

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