Although from one of the most unlikely sources, the Dragon28fire Laser Directed Energy Weapon is now in its advanced testing phase. The Royal Navy has started testing the Wiliams Formula 1 team-inspired steampunk mechanical energy system on its most sophisticated ships.
The new Flywheel Energy Storage System (FESS) is expected to have a reduced impact on the rest of the ship while drawing the required energy to power up, and without triggering safety risks like causing lithium batteries to light up aboard.
In a press release by the U.K. military spokesperson, Andrew Tate confirmed that the technology has initially been an invention of the Williams F1 team. According to him, they “saw an attractive option to bolster defence capability through the provision of more robust and futureproof power systems for naval ships.”
The Ministry of Defense was quoted by the U.K. Defence Journal describing the Dragonfire as a means to “protect our maritime and land forces” from “missiles or soldiers from enemy mortars.” However, having such a powerful 50 kW laser aboard a warship will definitely come with some engineering problems, considering the enormous energy it requires.
To fix the energy issue, the U.S. and U.K. researchers collectively agreed to integrate the FESS. According to a government press release, the FESS is a system specially designed to “use uses innovative high-speed & lightweight flywheels to provide high-power electrical pulses that these future systems require.”
The flywheel is commonly found in a car’s transmission where it stores rotational energy when the driver disengages the clutch. Then, it releases the energy immediately the clutch is re-engaged after the driver has switched gears. Applying the same principle to the laser, researchers hope to combine several flywheels and use them to store the energy vast enough to fire a laser.