29 Nov 2017

Dragonworks launched to pioneer advanced laser technology

Dragonworks – a brand new centre of excellence designed to put advanced laser technology through its paces – has launched in Farnborough, QinetiQ has confirmed.

Dragonworks will serve as a test bed for cutting-edge technologies associated with high-energy military and commercial grade lasers. The state-of-the-art facility houses a clean-room which will allow work with sensitive optical equipment to take place, alongside the UK’s only Reflective Hazard Assessment Tool (RHAT) – to explore how laser energy is reflected across different surfaces.

According to Steve Wadey, CEO of QinetiQ: “Dragonworks introduces a brand new sovereign capability, which will significantly enhance the UK’s ability to operate and characterise high energy lasers. It will help our customers to understand the opportunities and challenges associated with this disruptive technology, informing their critical strategic and tactical decisions.

“We are investing in this asset as part of our strategy to modernise the UK’s test and evaluation services, which will ensure our customers can keep pace with rapid technological advances and maintain their competitive edge.”

The first project to be undertaken at Dragonworks will be the assembly and testing of the laser directed energy weapon (LDEW) currently in development by the UK MBDA-led Dragonfire consortium. Components will arrive in early 2018, when QinetiQ will begin building the weapon’s laser source in the purpose-built clean room.

Peter Cooper is the Project Technical Authority at Dstl, which manages Dragonfire on behalf of the UK MOD. He said: “This facility is a key step in delivering the Dragonfire project and reflects the continuing UK MOD investment, supported and enabled by industry funding, amounting to tens of millions of pounds in UK industrial skills and capabilities and underpinning UK prosperity.”

Dragonworks, together with its associate projects, currently support 27 full-time jobs at QinetiQ, with additional support from over 50 of the company’s scientists and engineers. The Dragonfire programme contributes millions of pounds to the UK supply chain, which includes a number of innovative small and medium enterprises.

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Image courtesy of QinetiQ and Stewart Turkington

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