UK developing drone killer radio wave weapon

The UK is developing a new weapon for the armed forces that uses radio waves to disable enemy electronics and take down multiple drones simultaneously.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) says the work puts the UK’s defence industry “on a war footing” following the Prime Minister’s announcement last month of an increase to the defence budget to 2.5% of GDP by 2030.

An example of a Radio Frequency Directed Energy Weapon (RFDEW), the system is designed to detect, track and engage a range of threats across land, air and sea. The system will be able to effect targets up to 1km away, with further development in extending the range ongoing. It beams radio waves to disrupt or damage the critical electronic components of enemy vehicles, which the MoD says causes them to stop in their tracks or fall out of the sky.

RFDEW technology can be mounted on a variety of military vehicles and uses a mobile power source to produce pulses of Radio Frequency energy in a beam that can rapidly fire sequenced shots at individual targets or be broadened to simultaneously engage all threats within that beam.

At 10 pence per shot fired, the RFDEW beam offers a cost-effective alternative to traditional missile-based, air defence systems. A high level of automation means the system can be operated by a single person. 

“The war in Ukraine has shown us the importance of deploying uncrewed systems, but we must be able to defend against them too,” Minister for Defence Procurement, James Cartlidge said. “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.”

The RFDEW system is being developed by a joint team from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), working with UK industry under Project Hersa. The technology will undergo extensive field testing with British soldiers over the summer.

For more information

Ministry of Defence

Image: Ministry of Defence, Crown Copyright

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