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In 2015, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory announced the Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) project with system-level studies to be undertaken by industry worth approximately £12.7 million. The goal is to produce an LDEW concept demonstrator suitable for maritime platforms. This is evidence that the UK has an interest in developing sovereign laser weapon capabilities itself.
At present, Lockheed Martin appears to be leading the way on laser weaponry, having developed the first operationally deployed Laser Weapon System (LaWS). The AN/SEQ-3 Laser Weapon System was initially installed onto the USS Ponce as a technology demonstrator, but was so successful in trials that it was deemed fit for service and has been authorised for use as a defensive weapon in the Persian Gulf since December 2014. Publicly available information on this system’s performance remains limited and whilst footage released during testing show a range of targets being successfully engaged, they are soft targets and at close ranges.
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