Sept. 13, 2023. Raytheon UK is set to receive its first high-energy laser weapon system to be tested and integrated in the United Kingdom, marking a significant advancement in the understanding of how such systems can be fielded. Raytheon UK is the British unit of RTX’s Raytheon business.
Designed to stop aerial threats such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), this 15-kilowatt laser is the latest development in the UK Ministry of Defence’s Land Demonstrator programme. Raytheon UK was contracted in 2021 to develop and install the laser system on a UK Wolfhound armored vehicle.
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, said 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 help fulfil 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.
The high-energy laser weapon system has performed as designed in multiple field tests, including in difficult weather conditions with extreme heat, cold, rain, sleet and snow. During four days of live-fire exercises earlier this year in the United States, the system successfully acquired, tracked, targeted and destroyed dozens of drone targets in short-range attack, swarm attack and long-range threat scenarios.
Raytheon’s high-energy laser weapon system is compact, portable, can be installed on a variety of platforms, and it easily connects to other air defence systems. With deep, rechargeable magazine and minimal logistics, this laser weapon is an affordable and viable option to protect military and critical infrastructure, and rapidly defeat threats. The system offers a nearly infinite number of shots and precision accuracy with very low collateral damage, making it an affordable alternative to traditional munitions.
Raytheon UK is building on the success of U.S. investment, where a total of eight high-energy laser weapons have been delivered to the U.S. military. These systems have defeated more than 400 targets over 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.
The delivery of the first system to the UK comes as Raytheon UK officially opens its new, advanced laser integration centre in Livingston, Scotland. The centre, first announced in July 2022, focuses on the testing, fielding and maintenance of Raytheon’s defensive laser weapons and is a regional hub established to ensure that laser weapons can be quickly fielded, maintained and repaired.