The team of defense companies -- which include MBDA, QinetiQ, Leonardo-Finmeccanica GKN, Arke, BAE Systems, and Marshall ADG -- will have two years to develop the device, with their research culminating in a demonstration of the weapon in 2019. Their brief is to assess how well laser-powered weaponry systems can pick up and track targets at various ranges, with the companies aiming to prove that their tech can aim lasers precisely in varied weather conditions and over land and water. Should they be successful, these laser-powered cannons are expected to come into military use within the next decade.
With the US military having spent the past few decades experimenting with laser technology, the announcement may come as little surprise to many. While technical flaws meant that the vast majority of those experiments over the years resulted in failures, the US Navy did taste success in 2014 on the USS Ponce, when a laser was used to shoot a drone out of the air.
The MOD says the weapons aren't being developed to target any specific threats. Still, we'll be preparing for an imminent alien invasion just in case.