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The United Kingdom Is Developing A Low Cost Radio Frequency Directed Energy Weapon

Radio Frequency Directed Energy Weapon 1 1
Radio Frequency Directed Energy Weapon
The Radio Frequency Directed Energy Weapon. (Photo: UK MoD)

The new weapon is intended to disable enemy electronics and take down multiple drones at once at only 10p per shot fired.

The UK’s Ministry of Defence and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) unveiled the ongoing development of a Radio Frequency Directed Energy Weapon (RFDEW), a versatile system that can detect, track and engage a range of threats across land, air, and sea. The system is intended as a low-cost alternative to missiles when dealing with small targets such as drones.

Recent events in the Middle East and Ukraine showed once again the disparity between the cost of the systems used by attackers and defenders, where missiles worth thousands of dollars have to be used to destroy small drones or cruise missiles which cost much less than the weapons needed to counter them.

“The war in Ukraine has shown us the importance of deploying uncrewed systems, but we must be able to defend against them too,” said the Minister for Defence Procurement, James Cartlidge. “As we ramp up our defence spending in the coming years, our Defence Drone Strategy will ensure we are at the forefront of this warfighting evolution”.

At only 10p per shot fired, the RFDEW beam is a significant cost-effective alternative to traditional missile-based, air defence systems, capable of downing dangerous drone swarms with instant effect, says the MoD. RFDEW beams radio waves to disrupt or damage the critical electronic components of enemy vehicles causing them to stop in their tracks or fall out of the sky.

The system, which currently has a range of 1 km with development ongoing to increase it, can rapidly fire sequenced shots at individual targets or be broadened to simultaneously engage all threats within that beam. RFDEW is highly automated and can be operated by just one person while installed on a variety of military vehicles, such as flatbed trucks, and linked to a mobile power source.

The RFDEW system is planned to undergo extensive field testing with British soldiers over the summer, before being delivered to the British armed forces. In the meanwhile, another cutting edge, low-cost weapon, the DragonFire laser, was announced last month as the latest defensive system to be installed on Royal Navy warships from 2027.

About Stefano D’Urso
Stefano D’Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he’s also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.

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