Scotland to get anti-drone laser weapon hub

Livingston, Scotland will be a hub for high-energy laser weaponry in Europe, according to a major defense company.

The “advanced laser integration center,” according to Raytheon UK, will open the following year and will assist address the rising demand for laser weapons that can kill tiny attack drones.

The company claimed that the conflict in Ukraine had made their threat more apparent.

The center’s major objectives will be the development, deployment, and upkeep of defensive high-energy laser (HEL) weapons.

The anti-drone lasers from Raytheon may be mounted on military vehicles due to their tiny size.

According to the business, Raytheon received a demonstration contract last year to supply the UK Ministry of Defence with a high-energy laser weapon system to be mounted on the UK Wolfhound ground vehicle.

According to the article, there is a “spiking demand for cost-effective lasers” that can counter “asymmetric” threats including drone, rocket, and mortar attacks.

Small commercial drones, against which the missiles are aimed, have proven their military potency in Ukraine by guiding and adjusting artillery fire and, in some cases, being modified to carry bombs.

The employment of drones in the fight, according to Annabel Flores, president of electronic warfare systems at Raytheon, contributed to part of the increased interest in and demand for the technology, she told the BBC while speaking from the Farnborough Airshow.

She explained that as the idea of how to successfully counter them develops, “our continual interactions with clients are becoming much deeper and more pronounced.”

HEL weapons had advantages she added, particularly the cost per shot. While military ordnance can be very expensive, drones and quadcopters are in the £84 range, she said. Once connected to a power supply, she said, the system could keep running. However, the weapons do not resemble the lasers of popular sci-fi, as their drone-destroying beams are invisible.

“Hollywood makes it look very, very interesting and very dramatic. And this is a little different. It can look a little anti-climatic,” Ms Flores said. Raytheon says the laser system has 20,000 hours of operational use, but Ms Flores would not be drawn on whether the system had been “used in anger” yet. Initially the number of jobs created by the new centre is likely to be small, but could increase to potentially “hundreds of jobs”.

High-energy lasers, according to the business, might account for up to 30% of future air defense equipment. Of course, this will rely on a variety of things.

The BBC knows that the company has already invested roughly £20 million in building the Livingston site, although refusing to be drawn on the amount it will eventually invest due to awaiting financial results.

It said that the declaration was a “statement of trust” in both the importance of the technology and the UK’s engineering industry.

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