Britain accelerating laser weapon programme

By George Allison,
Published by UK Defence Journal, 4 September 2023

The Ministry of Defence has issued a Prior Information Notice to industry, signalling an intent to “accelerate and exploit at pace DEW as an emerging technology.”

The notice serves as an advisory for a potential upcoming contract to tender for the MOD’s Directed Energy Weapons (DEW) programme.

According to the official DEW Industry Briefing Note 1, the programme aims to “deliver a range of benefits for the UK connected to DEW by leading and commissioning the required work.”

It specifically focuses on the Transition Phase of the programme, highlighting three main DEW projects:

  • “Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) in a Maritime Air Defence application”
  • “LDEW in Ground Based Air Defence applications”
  • “RFDEW in Counter-Unmanned Air System (C-UAS) applications in the Land Domain”

The DEW programme will “build on the parallel DEW Capability Demonstrator Portfolio delivered by UK industry through Team Hersa,” with a six-month User Experimentation Phase scheduled to begin in 2024.

For the transition phase, the MOD is considering establishing a “new DEW Capability Development Framework Arrangement,” aimed at delivering “individual Transition Phase Work Packages for each of the DEW projects.”

This framework will have an “estimated total value of approximately £150 million over a three-year period from FY 24/25,” and aims to provide a “flexible and agile route to market for DEW Transition Phase requirements.”

The Prior Information Notice also states that the MOD is in the “early stages of developing a Procurement Strategy,” and is inviting industry to share their views via a Request for Information (RFI) Questionnaire. Responses to the RFI will be used to “inform the DEW Procurement and Commercial strategy” and are not part of any competitive procedure.

An Industry Day or series of Industry Days are being considered “for late 2023 and/or early 2024” to provide further details on the DEW programme.

See: Original Article