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by Sofia Villegas
16 May 2024
UK developing ‘game-changing’ weapon for electronic warfare

The UK Government announces its Defence Drone Strategy in February | Alamy

UK developing ‘game-changing’ weapon for electronic warfare

UK armed forces will soon operate a “game-changing” weapon to tackle enemy technology, the UK Government has said. 

Currently under development, the weapon will use radio waves to disable electronics and take down multiple drones at once. 

The Radio Frequency Directed Energy Weapon (RFDEW) will detect, track and engage a range of threats across land, air and sea.

UK minister for defence procurement James Cartlidge said: “We are already a force to be reckoned with on science and technology, and developments like RFDEW not only make our personnel more lethal and better protected on the battlefield, but also keep the UK a world leader on innovative military kit.”

The announcement comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak decided to ramp up defence spending to 2.5 per cent by 2030. 

RFDEW will disrupt or damage critical electronic components of enemy devices, downing drones with “instant effect”, the government has claimed. 

It will affect targets up to 1km away but work to extend the range is ongoing.

 Cartlidge continued: “The war in Ukraine has shown us the importance of deploying uncrewed systems, but we must be able to defend against them too. 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.

“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.”

It will significantly cut defence costs compared to traditional air defence systems, with the cost per shot to be 10p. Thanks to its extensive automation, it will also require only one person to operate it.

The weapon will undergo field testing this summer, with military personnel expected to start using it in the coming years.

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