Britain Says It Developed and Test-Fired a Futuristic Laser Cannon That Can Shoot Drones Out of the Sky The Ministry of Defense didn't disclose the range but said its accuracy is the equivalent of being able to hit a coin at a distance of a kilometer (0.6 miles).

By Tom Porter

Key Takeaways

  • The UK has tested a new laser weapon for shooting down drones.
  • The Ministry of Defense said the weapon uses a high-power beam that travels at the speed of light.
  • It could help defend ships and armored vehicles against drone swarms.
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MoD/Qinetiq via Business Insider
The UK's DragonFire laser weapon being tested in an undated handout.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Britain has tested a powerful new laser weapon that can take out swarms of drones, the Ministry of Defence says.

The DragonFire laser weapon fired at several aerial targets for the first time at a range in the Hebrides in Scotland, a press release said.

The Times reported that politicians in the UK were now hoping to speed up its deployment following growing attacks by Houthi rebels against ships in the Red Sea.

"These trials have seen us take a huge step forward in realizing the potential opportunities and understanding the threats posed by directed energy weapons," said Paul Hollinshead, the chief executive of the MoD's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.

The DragonFire laser system.

The DragonFire laser weapon system. UK's Ministry of Defence via BI

The laser-directed energy weapon system was used in the tests to engage aerial targets several miles away, The Times reported, and could be used to protect naval vessels in around five years.

The weapon cost about £100 million, or $126 million, to develop and uses a highly concentrated energy beam that travels at the speed of light to take out targets, the MoD says.

Firing it for 10 seconds is the cost equivalent of using a regular heater for just an hour, it says. The cost of operating the laser is typically less than $13 a shot.

The UK isn't the only country to be developing laser weapons, with the US already said to be deploying them in the Middle East to deter drone and missile attacks, though it's unclear whether they've been used yet.

Russia also says it has used laser weapons to take out Ukrainian drones, though their effectiveness is unclear.

The weapons are relatively cheap to use compared with current air defense systems, which use missiles costing millions to intercept drones costing as little as $2,000.

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