Chinese military researchers claim they’ve developed a continuously firing laser weapon, potentially positioning China ahead of the US in laser technology.
Video from January 28, 2023 showing what US & Japanese Experts say was lasers from a Chinese satellite beaming down green lasers over the Hawaiian Islands. University of Hawaii Institute of Astronomy Associate astronomer Roy Gal said back in Feburary, “It’s a Chinese satellite that is measuring pollutants, among other things, it has many different instruments on it. Some kind of topographical mapping or they’re also used for measuring stuff in Earth’s atmosphere, and I think that’s what it is, environmental measurement satellite.”
Scientists at the National University of Defense Technology in Hunan have reportedly crafted a cooling mechanism that allows high-energy lasers to maintain power without overheating, as per the South China Morning Post. This system represents a “huge breakthrough in improving the performance of high-energy laser systems,” according to the researchers. Their new method involves using a dynamic air-blowing thermal management system, blowing clean gas through the laser chamber to remove waste heat. “This is the first time that some of the designs and test results [have gone] to the public,” they stated.
Lasers, given their ability to heat air gas, face challenges of reduced beam quality and potential internal damage. The new cooling system counters this, leading to a more compact and efficient laser. High-energy laser weapons, capable of generating beams that can melt steel, are being eyed as game-changers in defense. Their speed and cost-effectiveness in targeting drones, missiles, and aircraft have been acknowledged. However, the cooldown time has remained a significant hurdle.
Steve Weaver, a former British military official, commented on the development, saying, “This is a big breakthrough considering the US failures in this area.” Defense giants in the US continue advancing laser weapon research, with projects including the Department of Defense’s High Energy Laser Scaling Initiative. The military has already implemented these systems, with the Army mounting lasers on Stryker vehicles and the Navy and Air Force testing lasers of various capacities.
Despite the innovations, laser weapons still face challenges. Their potency diminishes over distance, and adverse weather conditions can disrupt their range and quality. Cooling requirements, even with advancements, can also limit their effectiveness.