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degree program among the armed forces of major powers to develop and incorporate laser systems

With the development The use of intercontinental missiles could no longer make sense, as they can be easily intercepted and shot down, without causing collateral damage. In this way, the nuclear threat will have to turn to other possibilities, and laser weapons will most likely become the new object of desire of the armed forces.

High Energy Tactical Laser [US Army]

▲ High Energy Tactical Laser [US Army]

article / Isabella León

Since the British government offered more than $76,000 to anyone who could design a ray gun that could kill a sheep at 100 meters before World War II, technology in this field has advanced a lot. In 1960 Theodore Maiman invented the first laser and that accelerated the research to develop deadly beams capable of destroying any artifact sent by the enemy and at the same time causing significant damage to electrical components through a side effect of radiation. Today, the Progress in this subject as the greatest military breakthrough since the atomic bomb.

Laser weapons are valued due to their speed, agility, accuracy, cost-effectiveness, and anti-stall properties. These weapons are literally a beam of light that moves coherently, so they can hit targets at a speed of 300,000 kilometers per second, intercept numerous targets, or the same goal many times, get to the goal with extreme precision without causing collateral damage and resisting electromagnetic interference. They are also much cheaper than conventional munitions, costing a dollar with each laser shot.

However, laser weapons possess some limitations: they require a large amount of power, a size and weight adapted to military platforms, and effective thermal management. In addition, their structure depends on the composition of their targets (wavelengths are absorbed or reflected according to the characteristics of the surface of the material), the different ranges they must reach and the different environments and atmospheric effects to which they will be subjected. These aspects affect the behavior of the weapon.

However, despite these limitations, the major powers have long been committed to the immense potential of this technology as a strategic weapon.

United States

The department U.S. Defense Agencies has worked extensively to contribute to the development of the laser weapon system in specific protective fields, such as the U.S. Navy, Army, and Air Force.

In the department of naval defense, is particularly involved in this field. The Navy has developed what is known as the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) consisting of a solid-state laser and fiber optics that acts as an adjunct weapon, and is linked to a rapid-fire anti-missile system, as a defensive and offensive weapon for aircraft. The LaWS has as its goal shoot down small drones and damage small boats about a mile away.

The most recent developments have been awarded to the multinational company Lockheed Martin, with a $150 million contract, for the advancement of two high-powered laser weapon systems, known as HELIOS, which will be the successor to LaWS. This is the first system to blend a high-energy laser with long-range intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, and its goal is to destroy and blind drones and small boats.

The Army is also experimenting with laser weapon systems for installation in armored vehicles and helicopters. In 2017, the Armed Forces Strategic Command (ARSTRAT) armed a Stryker with a high-energy laser and developed the Boeing HEL MD, its first high-energy mobile laser, with a missile, artillery and mortar (C-RAM) platform, consisting of a 10kW solid-state laser. At the same time, research has been carried out to reach 50 kW and 100 kW of energy.

On the other hand, the Air Force wants to attach lasers to fighter jets, drones, and cargo planes to attack ground and air targets. In fact, the Army has continued its research to test its first airborne laser weapons in 2021. One of its programs is a 227 kg Gamma that produces 13.3kW and whose structure allows many laser modules to combine and produce a 100kW light.

In addition, another contract has been awarded to Lockheed Martin to business Work on a new laser turret for aircraft, in which a beam that controls 360 is implemented Degrees to shoot down enemy aircraft and missiles above, below, and behind the aircraft. The system has undergone many examinations and emerged in the project SHiELD, whose goal is to generate a high-powered laser weapon for tactical fighter jets by 2021.


In recent years, China has implemented opening-up policies that have put the nation in a state of crisis. contact with the rest of the world. The same process has been accompanied by a modernization of its military equipment, which has become source of concern to their strategic rivals. In fact, there have been several diplomatic confrontations in this regard. With this modernization, China has developed a five-ton chemical laser system that will be located in the leave Earth orbit by 2023.

China divides its laser weapon system into two groups: strategic and tactical. The former are high-powered, airborne or ground-based, which have as their goal intercept ICBMs and satellites thousands of miles away. The latter are low-powered, generally used for short-range air defense or defense staff. These targets are unmanned aerial vehicles, missiles and slow-flying aircraft with effective ranges between a few meters and 12 kilometers away.

Among the most striking Chinese innovations is the Silent Hunter, a 30 to 100kW laser weapon based on vehicles with a range of 4 kilometers, capable of cutting 5 mm thick steel at a distance of one kilometer. This system was first used at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou as a means of protection.

Also noteworthy are innovations such as individual laser weapons, which are laser guns that blind enemy combatants or their electro-optical devices. Within this category are the BBQ-905 and WJG-2002 dazzling laser rifles, and the PY132A and PY131A blinding laser weapon.

Other countries

Little is known about the level of capabilities related to Russia's laser technology. However, in December last year, a representative of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Krasnaya Zvezda, referred to the Peresvet laser system, which is part of the country's ongoing military modernization program. The objectives are very clear, shooting down hostile missiles and aircraft, and blinding the enemy's system.

Presumably, Russia possesses an extensiveresearch field In this subject, as its policy and behaviour relating to guns has been consistent skill and rivalry with the United States.

Germany's bet on laser technology is the Rheinmetall laser weapons demonstrator, which has 50kW of power and is the successor to the latest 10kW version. This system was designed for air defense, asymmetric warfare, and C-RAM operations. The Rheinmetall laser is composed of two laser modules mounted on Oerlikon Revolver Gun air defense turrets. He managed to arrive at a destructive 50kW laser by combining Rheinmetall's beam overlay technology to focus a 30kW laser and a 20kW laser in the same location.

The Future of Laser Weapons

When talking about laser weapons, the first thing to consider is the tremendous impact that this technology will have in military terms, which will make it decisive on the battlefield. In fact, many other countries that have a constantly modernizing army have implemented this system: this is the case of France in the Rafale F3-R aircraft; the United Kingdom with the high-energy laser Dragonfire, or even Israel, which in the face of the growing threat of missiles has accelerated the development of this technology.

Today, many ships, aircraft, and land vehicles are being designed and assembled in such a way that they can accommodate the installation of laser weapons. Continuous improvements are being made to create greater range ranges, increase energy, and perform adaptive beams. It can be said, then, that the time for laser weapons has finally arrived.

With the development From this technology, military equipment such as ICBM missiles or UAVs, mainly, could cease to make sense, since laser weapons are capable of intercepting and shooting down these missiles, without causing collateral damage. In the end, launching the ICBM would be a waste of energy, ammunition, and money. In this way, the nuclear threat will have to turn to other possibilities, and laser weapons will most likely be the new emphasis of the armed forces.

In addition, it is important to highlight the fact that this military innovation drives international security towards defense, rather than offensive actions. For this reason, laser weapons would not nullify tensions in the international sphere, but they could somehow diminish the chances of a military confrontation.

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