Global Times - Weekend

‘Drone killer’ laser weapon unveiled at Airshow, can shoot down target at low cost

- By Cao Siqi, Liu Xuanzun and Fan Wei in Zhuhai

A laser weapon used against drones attracted wide attention at this year’s Airshow China. Dubbed the killer of UAVs, the weapon can launch effective strikes on low, slow and small (LSS) targets, which refer to those that fly below an altitude of one kilometer, at speeds of around 200 kilometers per hour and have a radar cross-section smaller than one square meter.

The weapon also reminded many military fans of a similar weapon that Saudi Arabia announced at the first Arab World Defense Exhibition on March 6 it had purchased from China: the “Silent Hunter” laser air defense system.

The vehicle-based laser weapon, called the LW-30 laser defense weapon system, was unveiled by the China Space Sanjiang Group under the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporatio­n (CASIC), one of China’s largest missile manufactur­ers.

Laser defense weapons are a new type of weapon that use high-energy laser beams to attack targets. Its characteri­stics in-clude “light speed engagement, silent attack, continuous operation, flexible and accurate, high cost-effectiven­ess ratio.” It is a new type of weapon that all military powers are focusing on developing, and has broad applicatio­n prospects in the internatio­nal military trade market. By focusing high-energy laser on one point, when the energy reaches a certain level, the targeted weapon can directly burn through the control panel of the UAV. “The LW-30 laser defense weapon system has a power output of 30kw. The laser comes out of the canister of the tracking and firing system and hits the target directly, knocking it out,” said Chen Chaoyang, spokesman for China Space Sanjiang Group.

“The system is effective at intercepti­ng targets within a few kilometers. Achieving instantane­ous destructio­n of the UAV requires a higher-power output from the system, and the weapon system is still being optimized for this purpose,” Chen said.

The Global Times learned from the company that the LW-30 laser defense weapon system is mainly used for critical field air defense, with hard killing capability against typical targets such as UAVs, as well as hard and soft killing capability against photoelect­ric detection and guidance equipment.

The implementa­tion of electric energy strikes also makes the weapon cheap to use – just a dozen yuan (about $2). It can also respond quickly as it only takes a few seconds for the system to aim at the target.

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