UK testing Star Wars-style laser weapons to shoot drones out of the sky from miles away

Star Wars style laser weapons capable of downing enemy drones out of the sky are set to be built in the UK.

Raytheon Technologies will open the facility in Scotland after being awarded a £160 million contract from the Ministry of Defence.

As well as focussing on the testing and maintenance of the defensive weapons, the firm will also support the training of Royal Navy personnel at Scotland’s HM Naval Base Clyde.

The futuristic weapons, similar to those fired by members of the Rebellion at the Empire in a galaxy far, far away, have been designed to shoot down drones in two seconds from six miles away, the Daily Record reported.

Defence and intelligence technology firm Raytheon UK said the war in Ukraine has “highlighted” the threat posed by drones.

Michael Hofle, senior director of High Energy Lasers at Raytheon Intelligence and Space, a Raytheon Technologies business, said: “We’ve all seen that asymmetric threats like drones, rockets, artillery and mortars are a serious problem, and demand is spiking for cost-effective lasers to defeat them.

“Standing up an advanced integration facility in the UK reflects the maturity of our technology and our commitment to deliver the HEL systems our customers need to defend the skies.”

The high-energy laser weapon system are set to be installed to the MoD’s six-wheeled heavy armoured truck known as the Wolfhound land vehicle.

John Gallagher, managing director of weapons and sensors at Raytheon UK, added: “With experts projecting high-energy lasers could make up as much as 30% of an air defence’s infrastructure in the future, establishing a regional laser integration centre in the UK is an important step to deliver advanced defensive technology where it’s needed, while reducing overall costs of these systems.

“This centre will help position the UK as a leading nation in directed energy and ensure that the technology continues to be brought out of the lab and into the operational field.”

Announcements to modernise the Armed Forces such as the lasers were part of the long-awaited Global Britain in a Competitive Age, the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy.

Earlier this year there were fears when Russia invaded Ukraine it may require overhauling.

In February critics claimed it is already outdated after Vladimir Putin ordered Kremlin forces to assault Ukraine.

The attack has renewed scrutiny of the Government’s plan, which includes bolstering cyber capabilities and modernising equipment.

But Army troop numbers are being slashed from 82,000 to just 73,000 and dozens of main battle tanks are being scrapped – raising fears over how the UK could repel invaders or defend NATO territory.