Spain will develop a 35kW complete anti-drone laser weapon system

The development of the Weapons Instrument Laser Demonstrator [DIAL], a counter-RPAS system, has been given the green light by the Ministry of Defense. The exciting project, valued at roughly 11 million euros, will be brought to life by a temporary collaboration between Indra Sistemas and Escribano Mechanical & Engineering.

Spain develops a 35 kW complete anti-drone laser weapon system
Photo credit: European Security and Defense

The partnership was formed through the General Directorate of Armaments and Materials [DGAM]. Over the next four years, the two companies will put their heads together to design an innovative laser system. As per Spanish sources, the project will be carried out in various stages, culminating in December 2027. 

DIAL represents the Department of Defense’s first big venture into developing laser weaponry. The project carries an exact price tag of 10,980,000 euros [$11,975,000] including taxes. While specific details about the weapon’s attributes are scant at the moment, the Annual Defense Contracting Plan [Pacdef] does shed some additional light on this ambitious undertaking.

What will the weapon include?

The program outlined in this document mirrors an existing initiative aimed at the development of a 35kW anti-drone weapon. All signs point to this matching the DIAL project mentioned in Pacdef. 

In tandem with the award announcement, the Ministry of Defense released a document on the State Contracting Platform, fielding questions from involved companies. Such inquiries confirmed the intention for this to be an anti-RPAS system. The department clarified in one of the replies, “The document speaks to a prototype of a comprehensive anti-RPAS system.” 

Per the document, the prototype will encompass an electro-optical system, guidance mechanism, a laser guidance system built into the laser subsystem to focus the beam, and laser shooting capabilities. Added to this, there will be a direction of fire that identifies the target and its range, passing this intel to the laser subsystem. Aside from those systems that rely on a direct line of sight to the target [such as the direction of fire and output beam], the entire apparatus must fit within a designated shelter.

The rise of laser weapons

For many years, global military forces have been focusing on the development of weapon systems, ranging from drones to missiles, that are designed to redefine air defense. 

Take note of the United States, for instance, where significant investments have been channeled toward this initiative. The US Navy has started fitting their vessels with laser cannons. But it’s not just the military; industry giants are forging forward too.

Collaboration is key; Lockheed Martin of the US and Israel’s Rafael are jointly developing a laser air defense weapon. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, MBDA and Rheinmetall have teamed up to create a naval laser system for the German navy. These are only snapshots of the broader picture. 

Spain is also on board with this agenda. The Spanish Navy has openly stated its intention to integrate laser weapons for air defense into its forthcoming F-110 frigates. The Ministry of Defense has consistently funded research and development on this front over the past couple of years through the Coincident program spearheaded by the Directorate General of Armaments and Materiel [DGAM]. The Pulsed Laser Center in Salamanca is currently exploring multiple avenues for developing directed energy weapons using high-power lasers.

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