The British defense sector is unveiling a new directed energy weapon aimed at enhancing the nation’s military capabilities in a cost-effective manner. The Radio Frequency Directed Energy Weapon (RFDEW) offers a powerful alternative to traditional missiles, with each shot costing a mere 13 cents compared to the multi-million dollar price tags of conventional missiles.

This initiative aligns with the British government’s strategy to adapt to a changing geopolitical landscape, increasing defense spending to 2.5% of GDP by 2030. Part of this strategy includes expediting the deployment of advanced technologies such as lasers and other directed energy weapons. These innovations are crucial for economic and tactical reasons; using a missile worth millions to destroy a drone costing a few thousand dollars is impractical, as highlighted by the US$1.3-2.5 million Sea Viper missile used to down a US$20,000 drone, according to Navy Lookout. Moreover, the limited stockpile of missiles could be quickly depleted by swarms of inexpensive drones.

Directed energy weapons, such as the RFDEW, address these issues by offering a cost-effective and virtually unlimited firing capability, as they use energy rather than physical ammunition. The RFDEW can be operated by a single person and is designed to detect, track, and engage multiple threats within a range of up to one kilometer (0.62 miles). It is versatile enough to be mounted on various platforms, from warships to lorries, and primarily targets drones and aircraft electronics by emitting bursts of electromagnetic radiation.

Developed under Project Ealing, the RFDEW will undergo testing by the 7th Air Defence Group alongside the DragonFire laser weapon in September. These tests aim to assess the effectiveness of the systems and identify areas for improvement.

James Cartlidge, Minister for Defence Procurement, emphasized the importance of this development: “We are already a force to be reckoned with in science and technology. Innovations like the RFDEW not only enhance the lethality and protection of our personnel on the battlefield but also maintain the UK’s leadership in cutting-edge military technology. As we increase our defense spending, our Defence Drone Strategy will ensure we stay at the forefront of this war-fighting evolution.”

This advancement in directed energy weapons represents a significant leap forward in military technology, offering a sustainable and efficient solution to modern defense challenges.

By Impact Lab