Red Sea Lessons: Britain Set to Produce Laser Warships

YEMEN MONITOR/London/Exclusive:

The United Kingdom will order up to six drone-carrying warships for its Royal Navy as the government puts it on a war footing amid rising global tensions.

Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said on Tuesday that his country would incorporate laser and drone-equipped warships, drawing lessons from the Red Sea.

Shapps said the design of the new vessels would incorporate lessons from current conflicts, including Houthi attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea.

He said the new ships, known as Multi-Role Support Ships (MRSS), would be designed to enhance the Royal Marines’ capabilities.

They will be designed to carry a “wide range” of drones alongside vehicles, aircraft, and stealth combat vehicles. They will also serve as initial casualty reception ships.

The ships – which will be built in Britain – will be armed with the DragonFire laser, a directed energy weapon that will be fitted to Royal Navy warships from 2027.

This technology, which is claimed to have the accuracy to hit a coin from a kilometer away, is designed to shoot down drones and missiles at a cost of £10 (US$12.50) per shot.

Mr. Shapps said “we will definitely build the first three ships” for the Royal Marines and will plan to build the next three.

He told BBC Radio 4 Today: “What we are trying to do is create a multi-role ship.”

He added: “In fact, interestingly, we are learning from what happened in the Black Sea in Ukraine and we are learning from what is happening in the Red Sea at the moment to make ships that are more flexible and able to carry out a lot of different types of tasks.”

Since November, the Houthis have targeted more than 70 commercial ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, and recently expanded their operations to the Indian Ocean. They said they were targeting ships linked to Israel, which is waging a brutal offensive in Gaza Strip. But the Yemeni government and experts say the Houthis’ targets are domestic to escape internal crises and improve their image in the region.

In response, the United States and Britain have been carrying out an air strike campaign against the Iranian-backed Houthi militants since January 11. As a result, the Houthis have announced the expansion of their operations to include US and British ships.

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