Pioneering New Directed Energy Weapons For Drone Reckoning

Todd Moses
May 17, 2024

A new directed energy weapon is being rolled out to bolster British defense capabilities.

Inputs that matter: At 13 cents a shot, it's just as practical but much cheaper than the multi-million dollar missiles it's designed to replace.

  • The Radio Frequency Directed Energy Weapon (RFDEW) is part of the British government's policy to respond to a changing geopolitical situation.
  • It will increase spending on defense to 2.5% of GDP by 2030, placing the country's defense on a more war footing.
  • This policy change also includes fast-tracking the rollout of lasers and other directed energy weapons.

The opportunity: Knocking out a drone that costs a few thousand dollars with a missile costing millions of dollars per round is lousy economics – see, for example, the US$1.3-2.5 million Sea Viper missile used to take out a US$20,000 drone, as reported by Navy Lookout.

  • Also, missile stockpiles are small, and swarms of cheap drones could quickly exhaust them.
  • Energy weapons overcome these problems because, though the weapon itself costs money, it is astonishingly cheap on a shot-by-shot basis.
  • And, since they fire energy rather than solid rounds, they can fire an infinite number of times so long as the energy holds.

Zoom in: The RFDEW is a self-contained energy weapon that can be operated by one person and can detect, track, and engage multiple threats at a range of up to a kilometer (0.62 miles).

  • It can also be installed on everything from a warship to the back of a lorry.
  • The RFDEW is a self-contained energy weapon that can be operated by one person and can detect, track, and engage multiple threats at a range of up to a kilometer (0.62 miles).
  • The main target will be drones or aircraft electronics, blasting them with electromagnetic radiation.

Between the lines: Being developed as part of Project Ealing, the RFDEW is scheduled to be tested by the 7th Air Defence Group along with the DragonFire laser weapon in September.

  • "We are already a force to be reckoned with on science and technology, and developments like RFDEW not only make our personnel more lethal and better protected on the battlefield but also keep the UK a world leader on the innovative military kit," said Minister for Defence Procurement, James Cartlidge.
  • "The war in Ukraine has shown us the importance of deploying uncrewed systems, but we must be able to defend against them too," said Cartlidge.

Follow the money: Thales UK and other industrial partners developed the radio-frequency directed energy weapon (RFDEW).

  • Thales Holdings UK (Thales UK) is the British division of French defense giant Thales SA.
  • Thales UK is a global technology business operating across defense and security, digital identity and security, aerospace, space, transportation, transverse markets, and specific solutions.

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Read More

  1. https://newatlas.com/military/rfedw-drone-weapon/
  2. https://www.newsweek.com/radio-wave-direct-energy-weapon-drone-swarms-uk-dragonfire-1901614
  3. https://aviationweek.com/defense-space/sensors-electronic-warfare/uk-advances-radio-frequency-directed-energy-weapon
  4. https://www.dnb.com/business-directory/company-profiles.thales_holdings_uk_plc.d09893c90152274f83583440c28eb677.html