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The UK military has trialled a deadly accurate laser weapon for the first time in the hope of being able to take out enemy drones from miles away.
The DragonFire laser beam was tested at the Ministry of Defence's firing range at Porton Down. It marks the first time the MOD has tested a long range laser-directed energy weapon (LDEW).
The trials saw the lasers fired at targets from 2.1 miles away with deadly accuracy, meaning Star Wars-style laser weapons are now a reality for the British military.
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The DragonFire can reportedly hit very fast, very small targets such as a £1 coin moving at the speed of sound, making it a worthy adversary to hostile airborne drones.
In a statement, the MOD explained it needs pinpoint accuracy for its future technologies: "The ability to deliver high levels of laser power with sufficient accuracy are two of the major areas that need to be demonstrated in order to provide confidence in the performance and viability of LDEW systems."
The trial was designed to test the viability of laser weapons for destroying enemy targets in a combat setting, as global powers like Russia and China develop their own hypersonic weaponry.
The MOD added: "Laser directed energy weapons have the potential to provide lower cost lethality, reduced logistical burden and increased effectiveness when compared to other weapon systems – the technology could have a huge effect on the future of defence operations."
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Ben Maddison, Technical Partner at the MOD's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) said: "DragonFire has already successfully demonstrated an ability to track targets with very high levels of precision and to maintain a laser beam on the selected aim-point.
"This trial has assessed the performance of the laser itself—the outcome shows that the UK has world-leading capability in the technologies associated with laser directed energy weapons (LDEW) systems."
The UK is not the first country to test laser weapons. Last year, the US military commissioned the development of a new 'super laser' that can also shoot drones and missiles out of the sky.
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