The UK Government has carried out the first successful firing of a high-powered laser called DragonFire.
The weapon, which the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) says is an “intense beam of light,” allows the military to engage aerial line-of-sight targets such as drones or enemy aircraft “at the speed of light.”
Describing DragonFire, the MoD said it produces an “intense beam of light to cut through the target, leading to structural failure or more impactful results if the warhead is targeted.”
The MoD added that the weapon is cheap to operate, costing less than £10 ($12.70) per shot or the equivalent of using a regular heater for an hour when DragonFire is fired for 10 seconds.
The weapon could reduce the UK Armed Forces’ reliance on expensive ammunition.
Its range is classified, but it can hit a £1 coin a kilometer away.
Multi-million pounds of funding was announced by the MoD to transition the technology onto the battlefield.
The Army and Royal Navy are considering using this technology as part of future air defense capabilities.
Development on DragonFire is led by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) on behalf of the MoD, working with industry partners MBDA, Leonardo, and QinetiQ.
The MoD and its industry partners invested £100 million to create the weapon system.
This latest trial was sponsored by the MoD’s Defence Science and Technology (DST) organization and Strategic Programmes and enabled by many other agencies across the government.
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said “This type of cutting-edge weaponry has the potential to revolutionize the battlespace by reducing the reliance on expensive ammunition, while also lowering the risk of collateral damage.
“Investments with industry partners in advanced technologies like DragonFire are crucial in a highly contested world, helping us maintain the battle-winning edge and keep the nation safe.”
Lasers are a staple in sci-fi, with many well-known franchises kitting their weapons with high-powered beams of light.
This new development shows technology is now progressing at a rate that weapons that only exist in science fiction are now being brought to reality.