back to article British military laser death ray cannon contract still awarded, MoD confirms

The Ministry of Defence has today re-announced for the third time that it has awarded a £30m contract to build a great big feck-off laser cannon for zapping the Queen's enemies. Originally awarded in July 2016 to the Dragonfire consortium, the Laser Directed Energy Weapons (LDEW) contract immediately stalled after a challenge …

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  1. Admiral Grace Hopper

    No word on the possibility of fitment to sharks?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It will be suitable.

      Looking at who participates, there will be at most 100K-200K worth of RND. The rest will disappear in "markups for making it comply with military specs". That is the right ballpark figure for a small anti-shrimp power level laser to be fit onto a large shark.

    2. zebthecat

      HMS Sharky McLaserface

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Captained by Sir Lord Sharky of George

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No word on the possibility of fitment to sharks?

      Given the available hulls to mount the finished product on that may very well become a mandatory requirement...

    4. macjules Silver badge

      By there time Qinetiq have spent all the money we might get some rather angry sea bass.

      1. psychonaut

        Should that not be the good hearted sir fergal sharkey ?

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          It will be fitted to loan sharks.

          For "recovery operations" during the next "financial" crisis.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            It will be fitted to loan sharks.

            For "recovery operations" during the next "financial" crisis.

            I have no problem fitting them with any weight that keeps them underwater. I heard some organisations use concrete..

        2. wolfetone Silver badge

          "Should that not be the good hearted sir fergal sharkey ?"

          He's a bit hard to find at the moment.

    5. tr1ck5t3r

      Wait till these get fitted into satellites, you'll be able to track any plane from low earth orbit and obliterate it, or even knock out satellites getting in your way. One thing doesnt ad up though, considering how much radiation there is in space, why can we build satellites & explorers to land on meteors, Mars & the Moon, yet we cant uild robots to clean up Chernobyl or Fukashima? Are they really more radioactive than the Sun?

      1. defiler Silver badge

        @tr1ck5t3r

        Really? :-/

        Okay, two points for rebuttal here - one, orbital LASER platforms are a bit shit. The effort they take to launch and to refuel is utterly astonishing. And no, solar-powered ones aren't really going to hack it. Have a look at a BBC (Horizon?) documentary called "The Road to Ruin" from about 1983 - it's mentioned in there.

        Secondly, radiation is subject to the inverse-square law, so being inside the Chernobyl reactor, within a metre of a broken fuel rod, is significantly more hazardous than being 150 million km from the sun. Of course, Chernobyl is now knocking on for 30 years ago, so reduction due to half-lives etc, but still a serious issue.

  2. Korev Silver badge
    Joke

    The obvious long-term practical application for the laser would be aboard a warship, and perhaps one of the first aged Type 23 frigates to be retired in the next five or six years could have her hull life extended to serve as a trials platform.

    At the usual rates of defence procurement, I'm not sure if the RN will be able to replace those frigates by then - do you think we could borrow HMS Victory?

    1. WraithCadmus
      Facepalm

      "I did warn you not to look into the emitter, Admiral..."

      - Sir Thomas Hardy, 1st Baronet

  3. Nik 2

    Lead Contractor?

    The July story references MBDA as the lead contractor, but they're not mentioned in this article?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Lead Contractor?

      Lead contractor? Oh, you mean a plumber!

      Is he going to put some nice oil fired central heating in the laser turret? Plus a lead roof to keep the sea out of the sparky bits.

      I can see the BA consortium coming up with one of those keyring lasers from a Chinese shop but with multi million pound mil spec instructions; " Point at enemy and press button" There, now the bugger can't see to fly".

  4. Your alien overlord - fear me

    operational in all weather

    So, lasers can work blasting through rain, snow, fog and other airbourne particules thern?

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: operational in all weather

      So, lasers can work blasting through rain, snow, fog and other airbourne particules thern?

      Given enough power, yes. :)

      1. tony2heads

        Re: operational in all weather

        This might work but the power dissipated to get through a blanket of fog would be enormous ( backscatter, absorption) particularly if aiming at something low to the ground.

        1. Justin S.

          Re: operational in all weather

          I'd like to see video of a multi-kilowatt laser fire into the fog, though I'll take a pass on seeing it in person.

          You know how you're not supposed to activate your car's high-beams in fog? It's like that, only brighter.

    2. Mephistro Silver badge

      Re: operational in all weather

      Not to speak of thunderstorms! Creating a path of ionized air wouldn't be exactly a good idea.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: operational in all weather

      So, lasers can work blasting through rain, snow, fog and other airbourne particules thern?

      Pigs do fly... Provided that you give them enough thrust...

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: operational in all weather

        But what if this is a gamma-ray laser?

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: operational in all weather

        "Pigs do fly... Provided that you give them enough thrust..."

        Manouvering and landing is still a bit of a problem.

        1. phuzz Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: operational in all weather

          Pigs fly over my house all the time, here's a picture.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: operational in all weather

      According to the articles its a "Laser Directed Energy Weapon". So, by implication, it uses lasers for targeting but the "Energy Weapon" doesn't appear to be defined anywhere.

      Or maybe it's taken as all one phrase, meaning a laser weapon using directed energy, ie you can point light at stuff and burn it. But since Lasers by definition are directed energy, then either laser or directed is redundant. Maybe they were worried about calling it LEW ("loo", 'cos it's crap, will be the immediate re-naming by the matelots) and felt safer calling El Due :-)

    5. Schultz
      Stop

      Re: operational in all weather

      You misread, it says: "tracking targets in all weathers", not effective in all weathers.

      So you want a decent radar for tracking. You may then proceed to shoot at the target in any weather and if the weather is nice, the target might take notice. Sounds realistic to me.

  5. 8Ace

    FFS

    "... projects like the Laser Directed Energy Weapon which will keep this country ahead of the curve."

    Does every guvmint announcement now have to sound like a corporate tag line ??

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: FFS

      "... projects like the Laser Directed Energy Weapon which will keep this country ahead of the curve."

      Does every guvmint announcement now have to sound like a corporate tag line ??

      Also somebody somewhere needs to understand that lasers tend to go in staight lines* and not curves.

      * Except when passing close to something with very strong gravity of course. Actually, thinking about it given how dense many politicians (and "celebrities") are there is a good chance that our lasers curve.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: FFS

        '...* Except when passing close to something with very strong gravity of course. '

        Or, maybe being steered using microwaves, like round a copper tube bent into a 3ft diameter toroid?

        WTF you say?, you know that won't work, I know that won't work, but I kid you not, at the behest of a rather spectacular example of the genus Academius fraggelli (ssp ægypticanusriskusmaximus), an ex-colleague had to waste his time trying to implement a test rig for such an insane scheme back in the 90's at a Certain University in London.

        Academia+research grant money, got to love some of the BS they come up with.

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: FFS

      Be glad they didn't use 'bleeding edge' in a defence announcement.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: FFS

        Or tell of a 'huge impact'...

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: FFS

      What curve, exactly? The learning curve?

  6. inmypjs Silver badge

    Why do taxpayers have to fund this?

    An effective Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) would be worth a packet. The chances of coming up with one are sweet FA which is why no private money will be spent developing it.

    Given that why the fuck are idiot politicians and the MOD pissing away tax payers money on it?

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Why do taxpayers have to fund this?

      As the only people who'll buy these are governments, it doesn't matter who pays for the upfront R&D costs (government or private sector), the government will eventually end up paying the full cost once they buy the darn thing.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Why do taxpayers have to fund this?

        > will eventually end up paying the full cost twice they buy the darn thing.

        FTFY.

        Also, I wonder against what or who this is supposed to be used. It's a bit dear to blow up Iranian speedboats.

        In any naval engagement of the future I see, there are no survivable surface ships.

        1. Sam Haine

          Re: Why do taxpayers have to fund this?

          Lewis Page did make the point that ship-to-ship warfare is an obsolescent concept.

    2. Esme

      Re: Why do taxpayers have to fund this?

      'cause some of 'em have shares in the suplliers companies, maybe?

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Why do taxpayers have to fund this?

      It's basically crowdfunding.

      Only mandatory.

      Without opt-out.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One has a little list..

    'The Ministry of Defence has today re-announced for the third time that it has awarded a £30m contract to build a great big feck-off laser cannon for zapping the Queen's enemies...'

    Laser cannon, eh?

    Ah well, I suppose the traditional means of dispatching enemies of the crown (car accidents in foreign climes etc) have become just a mite too passé for the 21st century..

  8. James 51 Silver badge

    How are they going to get around the potential illegality as the weapons can blind people?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How are they going to get around the potential illegality as the weapons can blind people?

      Making sure that enough energy is imparted to vaporise people?

    2. Blane Bramble

      @James 51

      The illegality is for weapons whose primary purpose is blinding, not those that are designed for another purpose but might also cause blindness when used.

      1. James 51 Silver badge

        A good lawyer is going to be able to dance on the head of that pin for quite a while.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They'll ask the guy who is in the story about shipping in Washington. He seems to have got round the legalities.

  9. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge

    Is this the end....

    ...of conventional explosive type weapons that go BANG very loudly?

    That would be very good. War is so bloody noisy, isn't it?

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Say what? Speak louder; I can't hear you!

      I suspect, like F1 cars, they'll end up artificially ramping up the noise to make the fans squaddies happy.

      1. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: Say what? Speak louder; I can't hear you!

        If it doesn't go 'pew! pew! pew!' I'll want my money back.

        And some squaddie training that obliges them to shout 'Exterminate!' will be nice too.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is this the end....

      Maybe the end of BANG...but lots of PEW PEW PEW.....(there's probably some of the budget set aside specifically for the machine which makes that noise, maybe hiding somewhere under Section KX9: The operator audio feedback subsystem..)

  10. Tim Greenwood

    Never mind Lasr cannon

    I think a laser sword is something we should be developing. Although it might be better renamed as a laser sabre, or maybe just lightsabre !

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