QinetiQ has opened a new facility that will develop and test advanced laser technology for military or commercial applications.
The new ‘centre of excellence’, called Dragonworks, will test technologies associated with high-energy lasers, including the UK’s laser directed energy weapon (LDEW).
The facility features a clean-room and reflective hazard assessment tool (RHAT) that is designed to examine how laser energy is reflected from different surfaces.
It will also be equipped with additional capabilities over the coming months to support full-scale testing of high-energy lasers.
QinetiQ CEO Steve Wadey said: “Dragonworks introduces a brand new sovereign capability, which will significantly enhance the UK’s ability to operate and characterise high-energy lasers. It will help our customers to understand the opportunities and challenges associated with this disruptive technology, informing their critical strategic and tactical decisions.
“We are investing in this asset as part of our strategy to modernise the UK’s test and evaluation services, which will ensure our customers can keep pace with rapid technological advances and maintain their competitive edge.”
The LDEW is currently being developed by MBDA-led Dragonfire consortium.
QinetiQ will receive components required to assemble the weapon early next year, when work to build the weapon’s laser source is expected to begin.
Upon completion of evaluation and adjustment, the laser source will be integrated with Leonardo’s beam director.
The weapon will be handed over to Ministry of Defence (MoD) Shoeburyness next year, where it will undergo long-range outdoor trials.