The Laser Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs) offer a transformational ‘game changer’ to counter asymmetric and disruptive threats, while facing increasingly sophisticated traditional challenges. Laser technology provides major advantages for military applications over kinetic weapons due to High precision and rapid on-target effect, precise and scalable effects, avoidance of collateral damage caused by fragmenting ammunition, Low logistics overhead and minimum costs per firing.
China has been developing advanced laser directed energy weapons from low-powered tactical beam emitters to shoot down terrorist drones to high-energy strategic weapons systems to shoot down Enemy Missiles and Satellites. China has developed several types of low-power laser guns, which are used to dazzle or blind the enemy from a short range, or to damage the enemy’s night-vision devices. Four types of laser guns – the BBQ-905 Laser Dazzler Weapon, the WJG-2002 Laser Gun, the PY132A Blinding Laser Weapon and the PY131A Blinding Laser Weapon – were revealed in a report by state-run Global Times in 2015.
Built as a joint venture by the Chinese Academy of Physics Engineering and Jiuyuan Hi Tech Equipment Corporation, and marketed by Poly Technologies, the Low Altitude Guard I first debuted in 2014. LAG I was marketed as a law enforcement/counter terrorism tool, using its electroptical sensors to target errant and rogue UAVs. By knocking small targets down using lasers, the changes of collateral damage were reduced compared to explosive anti-aircraft artillery or missiles.
In Feb 2020, The U.S. Navy claims that a Chinese warship fired a laser weapon at one of its surveillance aircraft. According to the Navy, the Chinese weapon was a “dazzler” laser, intended to blind sensors or human pilots — a high-powered version, effectively, of the dangerous practice of shining a laser pointer at a commercial aircraft. “Weapons-grade lasers could potentially cause serious harm to aircrew and mariners, as well as ship and aircraft systems,” read the Navy’s statement, according to CNN. This is not first incidence, In May 2018, the Pentagon claimed two US pilots were injured when military-grade laser pointers were shone into their eyes from China’s navy base in Djibouti as the Americans came in to land at the US base.
In 2019, it was reported that China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA Navy) is testing a tactical laser system that bears remarkable similarity to the U.S. Navy’s Laser Weapon System (LaWS), an anti-surface / anti-air defensive weapon which has been in development since 2014. The Chinese version appeared in a promotional video broadcast by state-owned channel CCTV, and it is shown in a ground-based, vehicle-mounted application. According to Sina.com, the weapon is intended for both land and sea deployment, both for air defense or close-in surface-to-surface force protection. The outlet suggested that it might find use aboard the PLA Navy’s Type 055 destroyers in future years as an alternative to the HHQ-10 surface-to-air missile.
The China is fast catching up with world’s leader , the US which employed first laser weapon US Navy’s 30 kilowatt Laser Weapon System (LaWS), aboard USS Ponce in 2014. During testing it disabled a small Scan Eagle-sized UAV, detonated a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) and burned out the engine of a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB). The LaWS system integrated six solid-state IR beams, tunable to either low output for warning and sensor crippling, or high output for target destruction.
At the Africa Aerospace and Defense 2016 tradeshow in South Africa, Poly Technologies revealed new details about its lethal laser gun, the Low Altitude Guard II. Compared with its predecessor, LAG II is more apparently militarized. Its range is doubled to 4 km and has a 300 percent increase in maximum power output to 30 kilowatts. That’s comparable to the Laser Weapons System (LAWS) installed on the USS Ponce, which has a range of 15-50 kilowatts for attacking UAVs, small boats, and helicopters.
The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) unveiled its LW-30 road-mobile, laser weapon system at the 6–11 November Airshow China 2018 defence exhibition in Zhuhai. “The laser can be used to target unmanned aerial vehicles, the electro-optics of high-precision weapons, various aircraft, and guided missiles,” a CASIC representative told Jane’s , pointing out that the deployment of this “accurate” system, which is still undergoing testing, “reduces collateral damage”. The system could be deployed on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and South China Sea islands. Analysts said the research progress and technical status of the system are very mature, and it may soon enter into military service.
Officials of Poly Technologies in Beijing, the company behind the Chinese counter-drone system, say it could pierce five layers of 2-millimeter-thick steel plates from a distance of half a mile The LAG II’s eletro-optical guidance system is suitable for knocking out drones (and possibly larger manned, slow aircraft), but would require more sophisticated fire control sensors to target fast-moving objects like incoming artillery shells, cruise missiles, and rockets.
In July 2020, it was reported that China is installing massive, 20 megawatt generators to its warships to power high-energy weapons, including lasers and rail guns, the South China Morning Post reports. The turbo generators increase power-generating capacity fourfold on the warships, which would technically allow them to rely fully on electric propulsion alone, according to SCMP. That means faster response times, significant fuel savings, and better maneuverability. The generators will also be used to power rail guns and energy weapons, according to the newspaper. According to state-owned news outlet Global Media, China is currently developing an electromagnetic railgun which could take advantage of the new generator units.
In Jan 2020, the Chinese military’s procurement Web site posted a notice about a laser attack pod, according to the state-run Global Times newspaper. The details of the project were listed as confidential, something the U.S. military does when it publishes notices for sensitive projects on the FedBizOps procurement site. Chinese media noted that the laser attack pod indicated that the device was probably an airborne tactical laser: if it had been a laser designator to guide smart bombs, it would have been called a laser guidance pod. “If equipped on aircraft, the laser could potentially protect against incoming missile attacks and dominate in close-range combat,” Global Times said.
Weihutang, a military affairs program on Chinese state television, claimed that China has already developed a prototype 100-kilowatt airborne laser weapon. It pointed to a paper, titled “Study on Energy Storage and Power Supply of Airborne Laser Weapon,” written by the state-owned AVIC Manufacturing Technology Institute and the Military Resident Representative Bureau of Special Equipment of the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force.
In 2018, China launched a secret project with the goal of eradicating U.S. submarines. It’s called Project Guanlan, which means “Watching the Big Waves,” and it’s a space-based laser weapon. Reports say it’s space weapon that’s capable of shooting lasers more than 500 meters (1,640 feet) into the ocean. That’s more than twice as far as sunlight goes and far deeper than previous attempts by the United States and Russia. To accomplish this, the weapon uses high-powered laser beam pulses of varying frequencies, or colors. Those laser beams can scan an area as wide as 62 miles, or concentrate on one spot just half a mile wide. The laser is coupled with a microwave radar, which detects even the tiniest disturbance on the ocean’s surface, helping to guide the beam. This makes the top layer of the ocean effectively transparent.
China ‘laser AK-47’ that can set fire to targets a kilometre away
China has developed a new portable laser weapon that can zap a target from nearly a kilometre away, according to researchers involved in the project. The ZKZM-500 laser assault rifle is classified as being “non-lethal” but produces an energy beam that cannot be seen by the naked eye but can pass through windows and cause the “instant carbonisation” of human skin and tissues. Ten years ago its capabilities would have been the preserve of sci-fi films, but one laser weapons scientist said the new device is able to “burn through clothes in a split second … If the fabric is flammable, the whole person will be set on fire”.
The 15mm calibre weapon weighs three kilos (6.6lb), about the same as an AK-47, and has a range of 800 metres, or half a mile, and could be mounted on cars, boats and planes. It is now ready for mass production and the first units are likely to be given to anti-terrorism squads in the Chinese Armed Police.
In the event of a hostage situation it could be used to fire through windows at targets and temporarily disable the kidnappers while other units move in to rescue their captives. It could also be used in covert military operations. The beam is powerful enough to burn through a gas tank and ignite the fuel storage facility in a military airport. Because the laser has been tuned to an invisible frequency, and it produces absolutely no sound, “nobody will know where the attack came from. It will look like an accident,” another researcher said. The scientists requested not to be named due to the sensitivity of the project.
China successfully develops anti-drone laser weapons
Terrorists have started using small-sized, unmanned drones that are relatively cheap and easy to use. Neutralizing these drones through the snipers and helicopters, is difficult and can result in collateral damage. In 2014, Xinhua News Agency, China’s state press agency, reported that the China Academy of Engineering Physics (Sichuan Province) and other Chinese co developers have created and tested a laser-defense system designed to shoot down small unmanned drones such as “quadricopters” as well as small winged drones, flying at low altitude. Chinese Xinhua news agency, has reported 100 percent success rate of its Laser Weapon by shooting down more than 30 drones in a recent test.
The system destroy any small-scale drone flying within a 2Km radius , below of 500 m altitude and below 50 m/s(112mph) speed within five seconds of locating its target, the China Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP), one of the system’s co-developers, claimed in a statement. The mechanism can also take down various other small aircraft within a two-kilometer radius.
“Intercepting such drones is usually the work of snipers and helicopters, but their success rate is not as high and mistakes with accuracy can result in unwanted damage,” says Yi Jinsong, a manager with China Jiuyuan Hi-Tech Equipment Corp., a group under the Academy. Yi says that small-scale, unmanned drones are a likely choice for terrorists; in addition, small drones can be used for unlicensed mapping activities and can also interfere with military and civil aerial activities.
A new laser weapon system debuted at Airshow China 2018 could effectively contain tactical reconnaissance and prevent terror attacks and can be easily deployed on level ground like the plateaus of Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region and islands of the South China Sea, military analysts said. The vehicle-based laser weapon, called LW-30 laser defense weapon system, was unveiled by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), one of China’s largest missile manufacturers.
The new laser system will be installed or transported in vehicles, and “is expected to play a key role in ensuring security during major events in urban areas,” the CAEP statement said. Xinhua revealed that the academy, was working on similar laser security systems with greater power and range.
AirShow China 2018: CPMIEC undiscloses LW-30 laser weapon system
The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) unveiled its LW-30 road-mobile, laser weapon system at the 6–11 November Airshow China 2018 defence exhibition in Zhuhai. It is designed to strike photoelectric guidance equipment, UAV, aerospace aircraft models and RAM. The truck-based system can damage targets from as much as 25 km away with a power beam of as much as 30 kilowatts. The system aims to detect and strike low, slow and small (LSS) targets, which refers to those that fly below one kilometer, at speeds around 200 kilometers per hour and have a radar cross-section smaller than one squaremeter.
The system, which is intended for engaging aerial platforms and precision-guided weapons, comprises a 6×6 tactical truck upon which a 30 kW laser-based weapon is installed on a remotely controlled weapon station. The laser-armed truck forms part of an overall system that includes a radar unit and a support vehicle.
It is highly responsive; it features a high interception rate and multi-target strike capability, and can shift and aim at a new target within six seconds; it is cost-effective and consumes electricity only, with the cost of less than $1 per firing; it doesn’t use ammunition, so there is no need for ammunition transportation and storage; it has small collateral damages and doesn’t generate a lot of fragments. According to the designer, LW-30 laser weapon is efficient against land, air and sea targets.
It can complete independent operations or multiple network strikes, and can be integrated into traditional air defense weapon systems. Specifically, it can cooperate with traditional weapons such as the close-in weapon system and air-defense missiles.
The LW-30 system is similar to Poly Technologies’ Silent Hunter The SilentHunter offers four power patterns: 5kW, 10kW, 20kW and 30kW, its interception radius ranges from 200m to 4,000m and the target capture radius is more than 4,000m. It is able to intercept targets with the diameter of less than 2m and flying speed of less than 60m/s. The laser is said to be able to pierce five layers of 2-mm-thick steel plates at a distance of 800m, or 5-mm-thick steel plate from 1,000m away.
According to a statement CASIC sent to the Global Times on Sunday, the LW-30 laser defense weapon system could use a directional-emission high-energy laser to quickly intercept many kinds of aerial targets, such as photoelectric guidance equipment, drones, guided bombs, and mortars. It features sustainable-combat, high-energy focused launch, efficient thermal management and is also capable of long-range detection and imaging, said the statement. The system consists of a radar command communication vehicle, a laser vehicle and a support vehicle. The system can be flexibly deployed in key areas based on specific scenarios and demands.
It can complete independent operations or multiple network strikes, and can be integrated into traditional air defense weapon systems, said the statement. Specifically, it can cooperate with traditional weapons such as the close-in weapon system and air-defense missiles, the statement said. Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday that the system aims to detect and strike low, slow and small (LSS) targets, which refers to those that fly below one kilometer, at speeds around 200 kilometers per hour and have a radar cross-section smaller than one square meters. “It can detect drones and contain enemies’ tactical reconnaissance and strike aerial terror attacks,” Song said. According to Song, terrorists usually use LSS targets to carry explosives and radioactive substances. The system could be deployed on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and South China Sea islands, he noted.
Guorong-I anti-drone system
A short-range ground-to-air laser weapon system, it has a detecting radar, electro-optical interference device and high-power laser ejector that can shoot down a UAV in seconds from hundreds of metres away. The system was developed by Guorong Technology, China Electronics Technology Group and the public security bureau, according to PLA Daily.
The photos and video made public showed that this system, dubbed simply ” Short Range Key Site Defense System ” (要 地 近距 净空 防御 系统), fired at least twice with its power laser class of kW, including one on a plate of aluminum a few millimeters thick at a distance of 360 meters, and another on a drone that seems to be the model Phantom 3 of the Chinese manufacturer DJI flying at nearly a kilometer of the anti-drone system. In less than ten seconds of illumination, the metal plate was pierced with a hole about four centimeters in diameter, and the drone, with its control unit destroyed by laser fire, finally crashed to the ground.
Compared to two other Chinese anti-drone laser systems , the ” Silent Hunter ” from Poly Tech and ” low altitude Guard II ” (低空卫士II) of the Institute China Academy of Engineering Physics , that of GuoRong Technology certainly offers a less powerful “Hard-kill” solution with less scope, but which is accompanied and complemented by other “soft-kill” possibilities to cope with various interception scenarios.
GuoRong’s anti-drone system now consists of two trucks, one with a small rotating radar with a range of about 55 km plus electromagnetic interference antennas, and the other with an infrared turret, a tower optronic tracking and laser transmitter. As a result, the entire system is mobile and autonomous, making it easy to deploy to sites with little support infrastructure.
In June 2018, it was reported that China’s drone-killing lasers have successfully destroyed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from 1,000 feet (300 metres) away. The technology arm of China’s largest state-owned arms dealer, China Poly Group, tested the gun at International Exhibition of Weapons Systems and Military Equipment in Astana, Kazakhstan. The 30-100kw vehicle-based laser weapon has a beam that can cut through sheet steel, developers say. It can penetrate a target with an exterior as thick as 10mm from 2,600 feet (800 metres) away, sources say.
The Silent Hunter laser weapon can intercept low-altitude, slow-speed and small aerial targets including drones. It can be used either by police for counter-terrorism or by military forces for air defense. The laser is mainly designed to intercept large numbers of low-altitude unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and is said to be able to pierce five layers of 2-mm-thick steel plates at a distance of 800m, or 5-mm-thick steel plate from 1,000m away.
Compared with traditional air defense weapons, Silent Hunter has the following characteristics: It is highly responsive; it features a high interception rate and multi-target strike capability, and can shift and aim at a new target within six seconds; it is cost-effective and consumes electricity only, with the cost of less than $1 per firing; it doesn’t use ammunition, so there is no need for ammunition transportation and storage; it has small collateral damages and doesn’t generate a lot of fragments.
Silent Hunter offers four power patterns: 5kW, 10kW, 20kW and 30kW, its interception radius ranges from 200m to 4,000m and the target capture radius is more than 4,000m. It is able to intercept targets with the diameter of less than 2m and flying speed of less than 60m/s. During the 2016 G20 Summit in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province, Silent Hunter was deployed to provide aerial safety, UK-based Jane’s Defence Weekly reported in February 2017.
Light Shield comprehensive optoelectronic defence system
This vehicle-based air defence system targets incoming aircraft, a vehicle’s electro-optical pod or transmitter, or a missile’s optical guidance system. Developed by China Electronics Technology Group, it combines early warning, identification and interference devices and has a laser generator to damage or destroy the target. It has been installed in Chinese army armoured vehicles and was unveiled at the Zhuhai Air Show in 2014.
China Laser Directed Energy Weapon Technology advances
Laser directed energy weapons that are being integrated on warships have been massive in size, however Chinese researchers have developed a breakthrough portable-laser technology with ability to disable heat-seeking sensors on enemy missiles or satellites and to be mounted on aircraft, tanks or even soldiers.
Earlier a Research team in Beijing at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Physics claimed that it has reduced the sophisticated device down to a single piece of crystal, according to South China Morning Post. “This is a groundbreaking achievement,” Liu Qiang, a professor of laser optics at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, told the Hong Kong newspaper. “Nobody has generated a laser at such a high frequency on a single piece of crystal before.” “Their technology will significantly simplify the process of ultrafast laser production and reduce the size of relevant devices.”
The ultrafast mechanism can not only damage enemy targets but apparently can pick up encrypted communications and detect stealth aircraft, as well. Zhiyuan’s research “hints at a very promising means for greatly expanding the power” of laser technology, his team was quoted as saying in a paper published in the issue of the journal Physical Review Letters.
Fiber laser technology
China’s laser fiber technology is gradually catching up with the world’s advanced level. Laser World of Photonics China 2014 in Shanghai, saw a demonstration of many Chinese-made fiber lasers. Shenzhen-based Maxphotonics Co., Ltd. (Maxphotonics) had included a product similar to a 10KW fiber laser. Wuhan Raycus Fiber Laser Technologies Co., Ltd successfully developed China’s first 10000W fiber laser in the beginning of 2013.
Chinese have also mastered coherent laser beam combination technology, combining multiple low-power lasers with good beam quality into one high-power beam helps in overcoming power limitations of fiber lasers. Many Journal articles have reported successful combination of 2 to 4 fiber lasers. Higher power levels are required for lasers to be employed in varieties of missions such as wide-area, ground-based defense against rockets, artillery and mortars.
High-Efficiency Broadband High-Harmonic Generation from a Single Quasi-Phase-Matching Nonlinear Crystal
Chinese scientists have made another breakthrough discovery, too. This one lets them amplify the power of laser beams, making them far more powerful than anything we’ve seen before. These scientists have synthesized a non-linear crystal called caesium bismuth germanate (CBGO). These crystals are inorganic, which means they can’t be found in nature; they’re made in a lab. And when you shine a laser through them, they magnify its energy by 13 times.
“Nonlinear frequency conversion offers an effective way to expand the laser wavelength range based on birefringence phase matching (BPM) or quasi-phase-matching (QPM) techniques in nonlinear crystals. So far, efficient high-harmonic generation is enabled only via multiple cascaded crystals because of the extreme difficulty to simultaneously satisfy BPM or QPM for multiple nonlinear up-conversion processes within a single crystal.”
“Here we report the design and fabrication of a chirped periodic poled lithium niobate (CPPLN) nonlinear crystal that offers controllable multiple QPM bands to support 2nd–8th harmonic generation (HG) simultaneously. Upon illumination of a mid-IR femtosecond pulse laser, we observe the generation of an ultrabroadband visible white light beam corresponding to 5th–8th HG with a record high conversion efficiency of 18%, which is high compared to conventional supercontinuum generation, especially in the HG parts. Our CPPLN scheme opens up a new avenue to explore and engineer novel nonlinear optical interactions in solid state materials for application in ultrafast lasers and broadband laser source.”