The MOD is pumping £130m into research on futuristic weapons to knock out enemy missiles, aircraft, computers and electronic networks.
Laser and radio frequency weaponry – powered by electricity and with no ammunition – could give British forces the edge on the battlefield of tomorrow.
Whitehall has already invested £30m in Dragonfire, a laser weapon fitted to warships to knock out drones and fast attack craft. It’s due to be demonstrated later this year.
But it’s also turned to industry and scientists to develop three ‘directed energy weapons’ to be fitted to warships, aircraft, helicopters and armoured vehicles.
Lasers firing high-energy light beams to target and destroy enemy drones and missiles could be installed in ships, or fitted to Wildcat helicopters to take out small craft, while radio frequency weapons are designed to disrupt and disable enemy computers and electronics.
The new systems are expected to be tested in 2023 on Royal Navy ships and Army vehicles as the MOD works out how effective the new weapons are and how they can be adapted to existing ships, helicopters and vehicles.
If the trials prove successful, they could be serving with frontline units within a decade.
The new weapons differ from Dragonfire as it combines multiple laser beams to produce a weapon more powerful than its predecessors and resistant to the most challenging environmental conditions.