Explosive drones, hypersonic missiles, invisible robot ships… Einstein once said that “imagination is more important than knowledge”, and in the military industry in the age of technology, every visionary fantasy may become a reality. Today, the era of laser weapons has arrived.
At first glance, the laser weapon looks like the strange story in “World War” or the weapon of war in “Star Wars”. However, not long ago, the USS Portland amphibious transport ship completed an amazing exercise in the Pacific Ocean. A cannon was mounted on the bow of the ship, and its super-strong beam shot into the sky and hit the drone. The drone then lost control and crashed into the ocean within a few seconds.
The invention of laser weapons seems futuristic, but actually dates back to the 1960s. Its theoretical basis was put forward in 1917 by the imaginative genius Einstein. In the 1980s, US President Reagan funded a large-scale scientific research project, ambitiously building an invincible “space shield.” Although the time was not ripe, his “technological leadership strategy” against the Soviet Union worked.
Laser technology has redefined maritime warfare.
The unfinished business of the year has gradually become a reality, and the intensive energy emitted by laser weapons in space can “kill the gods when encountering the gods, and kill the Buddhas when encountering the Buddha.” “This new technology redefines maritime warfare.” “Portland” commander Kerry Sanders said without shy. Kelly Hammet, head of directed energy weapons in the US Air Force’s scientific research department, also said: “I have devoted my life to the research and development of directed energy weapons, and now they can finally show their skills on the battlefield.” If Hammet’s words are true, It is not surprising that the market size of laser weapons ushered in the golden age: in 2017 it was only 922 million US dollars, by 2020 it will be 2.2 billion, and it is expected to reach 4 billion in 2030.
The prototype of the US Marine Corps “Compact Laser Weapon System”
The Russian “Pelethwaite” laser weapon can attack a fleet of drones or a small missile.
The British “Dragonfire” laser cannon was unveiled at the London Defense Exhibition.
Israeli laser weapon “Blade of Light”
”Ten years ago, this industry was labelled as a’pioneer’, and now it has become a reality,” said Caprielle Jakovino, director of the Italian International Research Center. “However, there are still problems with the deployment of weapons. It is. There is a certain limit on the power of the laser, and as the range increases, the energy will be dispersed.” Jacques Vino further explained: “A laser beam can only attack a fleet of drones or a medium-range missile, no matter how much it is. The problem is not only It lies in the technology and the energy required. Assuming that it takes 150 kilowatts to lay down an unmanned aerial vehicle about one kilometer away, but if the outer armor of the aircraft is thicker, higher power is required, perhaps more than 300 kilowatts. Normal generators can’t do it. Therefore, this technology is more defensive than offensive. If it breaks through the bottleneck in the future, its attack purpose can be achieved.” This day will not be too far away, like Dynetics’ “High Energy Laser – Indirect Prototypes such as “fire defense capability” will have a lot to do by 2022.
Compared with missiles, the advantages of lasers are quite intuitive: it can travel at the speed of light, with an accuracy of millimeters, and does not need to consider wind resistance like bullets; more importantly, it is always economical. “For example, to shoot down a missile, you need another expensive missile, but if you choose the method of releasing energy, you can do it with very little money.” Jacques Vino said.
In addition to ships, other carriers on the ground and in the air are also undergoing experiments. Also in the United States, armored vehicles equipped with laser weapons can specifically guard against drone attacks. In addition, despite many doubts, the US military has promised to load laser defensive weapons on jet aircraft and the “Angel of Death” AC-130 air gunship by 2023.
Of course, “Uncle Sam” is not the only world-class player developing laser weapons. The “Pelethwaite” ultra-powerful laser weapon developed by Russia has successfully shot down an Israeli drone in Syria. Its name comes from the Russian national hero Alexander Peresvet in the 14th century. In addition, Israel firmly denies this technology that it has tried hard to develop, and its lethality range may have reached 2,000 meters. In January 2020, Israel announced the completion of a laser system that can deal with enemy drones, small missiles and balloon incendiary bombs. The “Iron Dome” defense system has since been even more powerful.
In other parts of the world, Australia has decided to bet heavily on new weapons, including directed energy weapons; South Korea seems to be only one step away from successful independent research and development; India and South Korea are evenly matched. Progress in Europe is not slow: Germany is equipping the “Brunswick” class frigates with a new high-energy laser system; the UK has allocated 130 million pounds of special funds to develop the “Dragonfire” laser cannon, which may be more accurate than the same type in the United States .
Behind the United States and Britain is the European missile group composed of French Airbus, British BAE Systems, and Italian Finmecanica. “Laser technology will be a supplement to the traditional missile defense system, and we will also include it in the response framework against’asymmetric threats’ such as drone swarms.” The European Missile Group said, “The technical difficulty of this system lies in accurately launching against the target. A sufficient amount of laser, because the energy density will decrease with the range, may also be affected by bad weather.” However, there is no atmosphere in space, so there are many fewer restrictions. France and other countries announced the deployment of laser weapons on satellites, ready to attack enemy satellites.
The opposition in the Reagan era mocked the president’s “Space Shield” project, calling it an expensive technology that popped out of science fiction. At that time, there was a saying left to posterity: “The science fiction of yesterday is the technology of tomorrow.” No, “tomorrow” has already arrived.