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Brits make new push for directed-energy weapons aboard vehicles, ships

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LONDON – The British Ministry of Defence has awarded three directed-energy weapon demonstrator contracts totaling £72.5 million ($100 million) to British industry teams, officials announced on Sept. 14.

The move will see demonstrator trials take place with systems mounted aboard a Royal Navy Type 23 vessel, a truck, and an armored vehicle, the MoD said.

The trials are scheduled to get underway in 2023 and be complete by 2025.

Two of the demonstrators will user laser weapons, while a third program will involve a radio-frequency weapon. All of the work is part of the British Novel Weapons Programme.

Two of the contract awards have gone to teams led by Thales UK and a third deal has been secured by Raytheon UK.

Details of the deals were released after Defence Procurement Minister Jermey Quin announced the outline of the contract awards as part of his speech opening the DSEI defense trade show here on Tuesday.

“Directed energy weapons are a key element of our future equipment programs and we intend to become a world-leader in the research, manufacture and implementation of this next-generation technology,” Quin said in a statement.

The lion’s share of the work has gone to Thales UK.

Thales will lead a consortium including BAE Systems, Chess Dynamics , Vision4CE and IPG to deliver a laser weapon demonstrator for user experimentation on a Type 23 frigate.

The company will also lead a consortium including QinetiQ, Teledyne e2v and Horiba Mira to install a high-power radio frequency demonstrator system for up to six months of user experimentation led by the British Army.

The trials will use a MAN SV truck as the platform.

The final demonstrator program has been secured by Raytheon UK leading a consortium made up of Frazier Nash Consultancy, NP Aerospace, LumOptica and Raytheon Technologies.

A laser demonstrator onboard a Wolfhound armored vehicle will run for up to six months of user experimentation led by the British Army. User experiments will include counter-UAV and other air threats, as well as prosecuting land-based targets.

A newly formed MoD team known as Team Hersa will manage delivery of the demonstrators. The group, which involves Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, is responsible introducing innovative weapons into the British military.

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