The Ministry of Defence has handed out £30m to a consortium of defence companies, with the ambition of creating a laser-based weapon to tackle whatever remote menaces might need destroying in the 2020s and beyond.
The UK Dragonfire group includes known weapon specialists Qinetiq, BAE Systems and Marshall ADG, and has been assembled to create a prototype Laser Directed Energy Weapon, or LDEW, similar to existing US technology, that could be demonstrated zapping drones out of the sky as soon as 2019.
The MoD told the BBC that there's no one specific threat being targeted by this approach, the idea is more to see the technology work under a range of scenarios then decide if it's worth sticking with and attaching lasers to everything in the future.
Harriet Baldwin, the minister for defence procurement, said: "The UK has long enjoyed a reputation as a world leader in innovation and it is truly ground-breaking projects like the Laser Directed Energy Weapon which will keep this country ahead of the curve." [BBC]