The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is finalising a £30m deal with MBDA UK for the production of a new laser demonstrator.
The Laser Directed Energy Weapon Capability Demonstrator will be supported by the MoD's new £800m Innovation Fund.
Under the contract, MBDA will evaluate whether the system can precisely track targets in varying weather conditions and environments, MoD said in a statement.
UK MoD Defence Science & Technology official Nick Joad said: “This is being made possible under the disruptive capabilities initiative that the MoD is delivering to ensure it retains the ability to have a decisive edge through the use of advanced technology and is part of a suite of advanced technology and systems studies and demonstrations.”
The laser weapon could replace existing systems used to protect maritime and land forces.
A prototype will be delivered by 2019.
MBDA UK managing director Dave Armstrong said: “Under MBDA’s lead, UK DRAGONFIRE will put the UK at the forefront of high-energy laser systems, capitalising on the experience of joint MoD / industry working in the complex weapons environment.
“Furthermore, it advances the UK towards a future product with significant export potential, as well as providing opportunities for partnerships with other nations’ armed forces that have similar requirements."
The MoD's Innovation Fund will also support the production of anti-missile systems, small surveillance drones, quantum gravitational detectors, advanced protective materials, and airborne threat-targeting laser weapons.