Russia has reportedly developed new laser systems that are “virtually ready for production” and can incinerate drones in five seconds. Not only the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj has doubts about the supposed breakthrough.
It sounds like science fiction series, but it has long been reality: laser weapons are considered to have great potential in warfare. According to its own statements, Russia is about to introduce a high-power laser for shooting down drones and light aircraft.
“Our physicists have developed laser systems that are many times more powerful, which allows the burning of various targets, and are building them practically ready for series production,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said on Wednesday at a conference near Moscow, according to the Moscow state news agency TASS reported.
According to Borisov, the new laser weapon has a range of five kilometers and can shoot down drones at this altitude. The new system was tested on Tuesday and is said to have burned a drone within five seconds.
Now it is slowly being introduced into the armed forces. “The first prototypes are already being used,” said Borisov. His statements could not be verified. No pictures were shown either. A US Department of Defense official told the BBC that he had “seen nothing to corroborate reports of laser weapons being used in Ukraine.”
And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj also considers Borisov’s statements to be propaganda. He compared them to the supposed “wonder weapons” introduced by Nazi Germany during World War II.
In a video message, the head of government said: “The more it became clear that they had no chance in the war, the more talk there was of an alleged weapon that would bring about change.” The fact that Russia is trying to find the “miracle weapon” only shows that total failure of the mission.
Of course, the Russian government sees things differently. As Borisov explained, the new laser is intended to replace anti-aircraft missiles, which are significantly more expensive to purchase. In its war of aggression against Ukraine, Russia reports the shooting down of drones with rockets almost every day.
He also praised the Russian laser weapon “Pereswet”, which does not shoot down drones, but can “blind” enemy satellite and reconnaissance systems and thus put them out of action. The range of “Pereswet” is therefore 1500 kilometers.
Surf tip: You can find all the news about the corona pandemic in the FOCUS Online news ticker
But even if Moscow’s army had such laser weapons, as Borisov claims, it would not significantly affect the course of the war. At least that’s what missile defense expert Uzi Rubin from the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS) thinks.
“Zelenskyj is right – it’s not a silver bullet,” he told the BBC. There are much better options for shooting down drones, such as Stinger or other anti-aircraft missiles. Not only are they cheaper and faster, they also have “a greater range”.
Rubin also explains that laser weapons have a low “kill rate.” According to the expert, they are too weak to make a difference on the battlefield. “It’s not like Star Wars, where you point a laser gun at the bad guys and press a button to make them explode.”
You can imagine it more like a microwave oven: “If you want to bring a cup of water to a boil, it takes a while.” Because a high-energy laser beam – consisting of photons, i.e. light – hits a surface, heats it up enormously . However, the beam must always remain at the same point so that a lot of heat can develop there very quickly.
Finally, Ruby brings another crucial disadvantage into play. Because lasers would be neutralized by bad weather, he says. They do not work in rain or snow and cannot penetrate clouds. So there are more than enough arguments against a supposed Russian “miracle weapon”.