WEAPONS company MBDA will be showcasing the nation's first line of defence at a world's biggest arms fair.

The Bolton-based company will be among the exhibitors at DSEI — Defence and Security Equipment International — 2017 in London at which it will be unveiling its new next generation military grade equipment.

The firm's Land Ceptor air defence system is making its show debut and the new laser weapon demonstrator being built for the UK Ministry of Defence has been unveiled for the first time by the UK Dragonfire consortium, of which is led by the local missile firm.

The weapon will be brought into service by the British Army as a replacement for the Rapier air defence system and is said to intercept 'the most challenging targets in any weather conditions, including cruise missiles and precision guided munitions' using the next generation common anti-air modular missile.

In Royal Navy service the system is known as Sea Ceptor — which is also making its debut at DSEI 2017 off the back of successful first-of-class firings from the Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll.

A spokesman for the firm said: "By purchasing the same missile to meet the air defence needs of both the British Army and the Royal Navy, development costs are significantly reduced and both services are able to utilise a common stockpile that will significantly reduce procurement and support costs."

UK Dragonfire is a grouping of the best of British industry brought together to develop this advanced and complex new programme for the UK Armed Forces.

Known as the Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) Capability Demonstrator Programme (CDP), uses of LDEW systems are providing very short-range air defence capability, close-in protection for naval vessels, counter-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and protecting friendly forces from mortar and artillery attack.

A spokesman for MBDA said: "A key benefit of the Dragonfire LDEW technology is that the base system is highly adaptable and its effects are highly scaleable. As such it offers a range of different engagement solutions depending on the tactical scenario, these include tracking, deterring, dazzling the sensors of a potential threat, up to damaging or destroying it."

UK Dragonfire was awarded £30 million contract for the LDW CDP in early 2017 after a rigorous competitive evaluation. Companies involved, include Leonardo, QinetiQ, MBDA, Arke, BAE Systems, Marshall and GKN.

The show is expected to attract an audience of over 34,000 including defence ministers, international military and armed forces, key industry players and private sector companies.