AIM Defence awarded $4.9 million contract for anti-drone laser weapon prototype


Laser-based anti-drone system maker AIM Defence has been awarded a $4.9 million contract by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) for a directed energy weapon prototype that will be used in field-based trials.

AIM Defence says its counter-drone systems are able to achieve “millimetre target accuracy at a distance of 1 kilometre” and are a tenth the size of defensive directed energy systems currently being trialled.  

According to the company, the Fractl:2 DE system – expected to be delivered to the ADF by the middle of this year – is powerful enough to burn through steel, can shoot down over 50 drones per charge, and is precise enough to track and shoot down a drone travelling at 100 kilometres an hour.

“We have successfully demonstrated over 200 drone defeats both indoors and outdoors over the last  two years, each time improving the Fractl capabilities and learning how to safely deploy directed  energy,” said AIM Defence Co-founder Dr Jae Daniel in a statement on Monday. 

“By having this focus we’ve been able to engineer our 1-micron Fractl:1 system to be orders of  magnitude safer than other DE systems.”

AIM has been developing tactical DE systems with organisations including Defence Science and Technology Group since 2019. 

The use of DE for countering drones in combat is increasingly desirable, and last month AIM was chosen by the government of Canada for the 2024 Counter Uncrewed Aerial Systems Sandbox, alongside international defence primes. 

It is the first year high-power lasers will be included in the Sandbox exercise, which will run May 27 until June 21 in Suffield, Alberta.

“Countering drones and other autonomous weapons systems has emerged as one of the most critically needed capabilities for militaries worldwide,” said AIM Defence Co-founder, Jessica Glenn.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles launched AIM’s directed energy testing range, sponsored by RAAF Jericho, in April last year.

Picture: supplied

Further reading

AIM Defence chosen for Canadian counter-drone exercise

AIM Defence buys high-altitude drone company NearSat

Australia wants to build a laser that can stop a tank. Here’s why ‘directed energy weapons’ are on the military wishlist

$3 million awarded in defence technology grants for small businesses

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