back to article UK eyes frikkin' Laser Directed Energy Weapon

The UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) is considering several contenders to supply a Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) for evaluation as part of a programme which could "ultimately could see the MOD fund a full-up programme to buy defensive laser weapon system". According to this report, companies …

  1. hatti

    As long as it makes a light sabre noise when it deploys, I'm in.

  2. Keef

    As long as...

    They test it (successfully) on Theresa May I'm in.

  3. Ashton Black


    We had 4 of these to protect against rocket/mortar attacks at Basra, Iraq. They're damn effective bits of kit, once calibrated they were getting a 90% kill rate, even on the 90mm jobbies. Interestingly the rounds the phalanx fires are set to explode after a certain period of time to prevent them from landing again in downtown Basra. This meant a farty sound when they fired and a popcorn popping sound a few seconds later. Plus at night they made pretty lights... oooo pretty.

    Now add a Big frikken laser!

  4. TeeCee Gold badge

    .....the USS Ponce


    God I bet the crew of that get the piss taken unmercifully by our Navy lads when over this way. I wonder if they get hazard pay for walking around Portsmouth with "Ponce" on their hats?

    1. Dabooka Silver badge

      You read my mind

      It must be tough already for some of them being in the Navy, but can imagine the field days their mates would have with this?

      "Sorry, you've been posted onto the USS ponce?!"

      1. Flatpackhamster

        Re: You read my mind

        It's spelled Ponce, but it's pronounced Poncy.

        Which makes it all just fine.

        1. swarfega

          Re: You read my mind

          A tall ship, and a star to steer her by, or possibly Uranus

    2. chivo243 Silver badge


      Still doesn't hold a candle to Boaty McBoatface...

      1. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Poncey McPonceFace*

        * Yes I'm aware how Ponce is pronounced

  5. Shady


    We're gonna need a bigger shark

  6. nuked

    Yes but can this one kill CL4P TRAP?

  7. Ru'

    How can anyone resist the urge to paint Bender's face on the phalanx upper structure?

  8. Sureo

    I notice that their tests are all on a calm sea. What about more typical ocean swells, or a storm?

    1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      I'm pretty sure the platform is gyro stabilised

    2. Sporkinum

      World of Warships

      I've been playing a lot of World of Warships, and that is one thing that is missing. They just added weather that affects one map's visibility, but still need to add rolling seas. Pretty hard to program without killing frame rate I'd bet.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: World of Warships

        Generally ship to ship warfare tended to err towards moderate swell at worse. In storms the changes of you hitting anything but water made it a waste of time.

        Nowadays though we have all-weather missiles, they probably still suffer from missing vessels in a storm or having the sea skimming missiles hit by large waves but at least you're more likely to hit what you aim at since the moving platform element is removed.

      2. Gordon861

        Re: World of Warships

        Not sure how effective this would be against a large arti shell, probably not at all.

        1. Marshalltown

          Re: World of Warships

          That's what the Vulcan is for.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Re: World of Warships

            just thinking, how effective would it be against a Metalstorm multiple shell simultaneous attack?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      These are made to track and shoot fast moving things that want to kill you, including fast moving things that maneuver to increase their odds of killing you. I would imagine that even heavy sea swells are minor compared to moving targets.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: umm

        I wonder how many aiming algorithms it uses? If you know them you can anticipate and avoid them.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now if they could mount one of these on a satellite so I could control it from an island my life would be complete. I've already got a cat that likes to sit on my knee with a menacing look so I'm half way there.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Do you also have a grey Nehru jacket? Is a henchman obligatory?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        I hope you aren't looking for the job. Henchmen never last long.

        1. Dave Bell

          Henchmen are getting replaced by droids. They can just plug into a USB port to recharge, and it lets them patch code, or watch a porn video. while they wait.

        2. Anonymous Coward


          henchpersons shirley!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They've just finished DOOM haven't they?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What is the chance ..

    .. of ANY of these parties being interested in ending a war, or peace in general?

    Yeah, thought so.

  12. sawatts

    Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW)

    Missed a trick there - should have been Phased Energy Weapon, then we would be able to say "PEW PEW PEW"...

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW)

      Well, it's a Photon Energy Weapon.

  13. MT Field

    Where is Lewis Page when you need him?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Where is Lewis Page when you need him?

      He's writing books, it seems. I really ought to give him a call.

  14. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Boring vid

    Much better vid was taken during some weapon trials where the goalkeeper was taking 4.5" shells out in mid flight, much better than poncy sea skimmers doing 600mph or some drone doing 100 mph.

    Just need to add a dollop of AI and take the human operator out of the loop (although the gun will do that itself shortly after it becomes self-aware)

  15. DavidJB

    If I recall correctly, the Royal Navy first ordered the Phalanx system in a panic during the Falklands episode, when they discovered that their air defence systems (Sea Dart and Sea Wolf) were close to bloody useless. Sea Dart only worked against high level targets, while Sea Wolf was a 'hittile' which required the damn thing to actually hit a small fast-flying object, with no proximity-fuse option. Then along came Exocet.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: DavidJB

      "If I recall correctly.... Sea Dart only worked against high level targets...." Read, digest, recall accurate information next time -, Please note the bit about how, during the Gulf War, an RN Sea Dart saved USS Missouri from an Iraqi Silkworm missile after the USN's Phalanx was fooled by their own chaff. The RN decided they preferred Goalkeeper to Phalanx as Goalkeeper's 30mm shells are much more likely to destroy an incoming missile with one hit than Phalanx's 20mm shells.

      1. Citizen99

        Re: DavidJB

        (supplementary) ... and also the Sea Wolf demonstrated successful, sea-borne, interception of a small fast object, to whit a 4.5 inch shell, during development trials.

        Not that you would want to be in a combat situation requiring the expenditure of a missile versus expenditure of a shell, of course.

  16. bep

    Nice videos and all

    but if my understanding is correct Phalanx has never shot down an actual missile fired by actual baddies at sea.

    Shooting down even artillery shells from a stable land-based platform is a lot simpler than hitting a sea-skimming missile from a platform that is rolling, heaving and pitching. Soft kill apparently works better (decoying, jamming, spoofing). There is an explicable logic as to why this should be so. The ship will always have access to much more computing and electrical power than can be put into a small missile, so the ship should always be able to use that to out-think or simply overpower the missile. This also eliminates the issue of the missile being a much smaller target than the ship. The caveat is that the ship systems have to be continually updated to deal with the current threat. Anyway I'm sure Phalanx is good for morale.

    1. Dave Bell

      Re: Nice videos and all

      Phalanx might be a slightly too-small a calibre, but a warship needs a gun to put a shot across the bows of a ship that doesn't stop. It's something that still works, though the usual minimum is a 40mm Bofors, rather than 30mm. I wonder what a laser pulse hitting the sea would do.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Nice videos and all

        I wonder what a laser pulse hitting the sea would do.

        Not a lot? Possibly light it up briefly but that depends on the frequency.

        Despite the kid in me I'm rather dubious of "laser weapons" because unless the amount of energy output through the laser is very high, the beam width is very narrow or the beam is held resolutely in place on a single spot on the target then generally not a lot is going to happen.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          Re: Nick Ryan Re: Nice videos and all

          "....rather dubious of "laser weapons"...." Indeed, their use so far seems to be primarily as a means of missile guidance, but they have also been used to dazzle the pilots of attacking planes. One interesting development is the US's Pike "personal missile", which is a 40mm, 2Lb missile launched from the standard M320 40mm grenade-launcher and laser-guided out to ranges of over 2km.

    2. Lance the Boil

      Re: Nice videos and all

      "Shooting down even artillery shells from a stable land-based platform is a lot simpler"

      How so? Surely an artillery shell is ballistic (unpowered and following a pre-determined flight path) so to stop it you have to divert it (it's a lot bigger than your puny 20mm shalls), or annihilate it completely leaving no mass left.

      Shooting down a missile simply requires making it's rocket stop operating. Somewhat simpler but a harder target to hit as it's going far faster than an artillery shell.

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