Laser Weapon Era Really Coming?

The United States has always been ahead in the field of laser weapons. Some laser weapon systems have already begun to be put into practical use. Laser weapon era really coming?

The United States to speed up the development of airborne laser weapons, the United States Army air and land armed forces are laser weapons development plan. Compared with traditional weapons, laser weapons have the unique advantages of being fast, accurate, free from electromagnetic interference and high cost-effective ratio. They are regarded as the future weapon of “changing the rules of war.” Their military application value has always been favored and valued by the military powers . The United States armed forces have their own land and air laser weapon development plan.

In 2013, the US Navy demonstrated the ability to shoot down enemy UAVs with shipboard tactical lasers. In November 2014, the US Navy first hit the enemy’s small boats with laser weapons at sea. At present, the US is developing the sixth generation of fighters, and will be equipped with laser and microwave directional energy weapons for close range defense. It is said that it can achieve “close kill” to enemy planes at close range. According to reports, The Pentagon recently signed a $9 million contract with the general atomic energy company of military industry, and commissioned the latter to develop laser weapons that can be placed on UAVs.

Previously, the U.S. Army had tested laser weapons on mobile tactical trucks. It is also introduced that the US Army is also pushing 100 kW of high powered laser weapons on medium-sized Tactical Vehicles. Compared with the army and the Navy, it is more difficult for the air force to be equipped with laser weapons. With the progress of technology, the volume and weight ratio of laser generating device and guiding device has been obviously reduced at the beginning of its birth, but the miniaturization degree of high-power laser is still not ideal. In addition, how to ensure the good heat dissipation of laser weapons in a limited space and continue to lock targets during maneuvering of fighters is also a difficult problem to solve.

In May 10, 1972, the United States took the lead in the practical use of laser guided bombs on the Vietnam battlefield, which greatly improved the precision of the bomb. After verifying the precision of laser guidance, the military powers began to explore the use of high energy laser to kill targets directly, which is the laser weapon. As of now, some military power has been developed based on the existing land, sea and air, for a variety of types of space-based laser weapons platform, realized the satellite, missile interception, blinding drone damage and other operational test.

The United States started early and has high technology level in the field of laser research. It has always been in the front. Its tactical laser weapon system represented by the Navy’s shipborne regional defense laser weapon system (LADS) has started the actual combat test two years ago. Countries such as Russia, Britain, France and Germany are also intensifying the development of various types of laser weapons.

According to the different energy, laser weapons can be divided into low energy laser weapons and high-energy laser weapons. Low energy laser weapons can cause blindness or death, or interfere with or destroy the optical devices and electronic components of weapon systems. High energy laser weapons can directly destroy weapons systems. In use, it is mainly divided into tactical laser weapons for blinding, air defense and strategic laser weapons for anti satellite and anti ballistic missiles.

The technical threshold of low energy laser weapon is not high, for example, laser blinding weapon, also known as laser gun, can cause people’s eyes to be temporarily or permanently blinded from several kilometers to more than ten kilometers away. According to reports, laser blinding weapon has been applied in some local wars for a small range, mainly for the enemy’s fighter pilots, arms operator’s eyes or optical targeting system. At present, the hot field of the development of laser weapons is the high-energy laser weapon, also known as the strong laser weapon or the laser gun, and its comprehensive technical difficulty is quite great.

Although a variety of advantages have been highlighted in the development of laser weapons, many defects have been exposed. Besides the high cost of development, it also shows many shortcomings and shortcomings such as large volume, small power, high energy consumption, short transmitting distance and great influence on meteorological conditions. This is also the important reason why laser weapons have not been deployed for a long time. Belongs to the precision optical system launch tactical green laser weapon system, the effect of atmosphere condition is very serious, difficult to all-weather, especially cannot play an effective operational performance in the fog and rain, dust and other complex natural conditions, survival ability and environment on the battlefield to still need further improved.

Although the strategy of laser weapon has great application prospect, can completely change the traditional mode of strategic deterrence and break the existing strategic balance, but due to the large amounts of energy as the basis, leading to the current volume of laser weapon is generally too large, regardless of the airborne laser weapon system, or shipborne laser weapon system, and so are the ground-based laser weapon system. In addition, the output power of the laser weapon are difficult to reach 100 kilowatts of weapons grade standard, the beam tracking and the control accuracy is not high, the irradiation target jitter is too large, the damage time is longer, especially for some aircraft and missile high-speed moving target, difficult to meet the requirements of fast and accurate battlefield combat.