Livingston to be home to 'advanced laser centre' in fight against attack drones

Raytheon UK is to open an “advanced laser integration centre” in West Lothian to help meet the growing demand for weapons that target small attack drones.

The defence and intelligence technology firm - already a major Scottish employer - said the conflict in Ukraine had highlighted the threat posed by drones.

The company’s president of electronic warfare systems, Annabel Flores, said demand was growing for “cost-effective” lasers able to defeat “asymmetric” threats from drones, rockets and mortars.

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The planned centre will be a European hub for high-energy laser weaponry and will be based in Livingston. It will focus on the testing, fielding and maintenance of defensive high-energy laser (HEL) weapons.

It is understood that a small number of jobs will be created initially at the site, while the setting up of the centre should lead to new technology and skills once contracts are secured.

Raytheon Technologies has licences to export various configurations of its HEL technology in the UK, Europe and around the world.

Michael Hofle, senior director of high energy lasers at Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business, said: “We’ve all seen that asymmetric threats like drones, rockets, artillery and mortars are a serious problem, and demand is spiking for cost-effective lasers to defeat them. Standing up an advanced integration facility in the UK reflects the maturity of our technology and our commitment to deliver the HEL systems our customers need to defend the skies.”

John Gallagher, managing director of weapons and sensors at Raytheon UK, added: “With experts projecting that high-energy lasers could make up as much as 30 per cent of an air defence’s infrastructure in the future, establishing a regional laser integration centre in the UK is an important step to deliver advanced defensive technology where it’s needed, while reducing overall costs of these systems.”

Raytheon is already a key Scottish employer and has a major site at Livingston, West Lothian.Raytheon is already a key Scottish employer and has a major site at Livingston, West Lothian.
Raytheon is already a key Scottish employer and has a major site at Livingston, West Lothian.

Raytheon UK is part of Raytheon Technologies, which supports some 1,900 jobs across Scotland and provides a £187 million contribution to the economy.

The move comes after the Ministry of Defence announced that a £160m contract had been awarded to Raytheon UK to support the training and development of Royal Navy personnel at HM Naval Base Clyde.

Britain’s armed forces began trials last year using laser weapons.

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