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SEPTEMBER 2020

Russian-U.S. Combat Laser Weapons Race On Rise

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Russian-U.S. Combat Laser Weapons Race On Rise

Image by the National Interest. Click to see full-size image

On November 6th, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Russian Armed Forces would receive hypersonic and laser weapons. Putin emphasized that Russia will build up its defense potential, but is also ready for the disarmament process.

“We intend to build up our defense potential and put in combat readiness hypersonic, laser, and other modern weapons that other countries do not yet have,” he said.

Speaking about building up defense potential, Putin stressed that the country’s armed forces will receive the latest weapons, as this is necessary to guarantee security. At the same time, according to the president, Moscow is not going to threaten anyone.

At the same time, US state-funded Voice of America reported on how questionable these claims of laser and hypersonic weapons were.

“Hardly a day goes by now without some announcement from the Kremlin of a test firing of this or that new missile, a military exercise here or there or the launching of a new warship or development of a fresh weapon system.”

Western military analysts, cited by the outlet claimed that there was “a lot of smoke and mirrors” when it comes to the military buildup, especially when it comes to the Russian Navy.

National Interest’s Robert Farley said the following:

“The Russian Navy inherited a massive, modern fleet of surface ships and submarines. Most of these disappeared in short order, as Russia was incapable of maintaining such a flotilla. The remaining major units of the Russian Navy are very old, and in questionable states of repair.”

He furthermore said that this was what specifically the Russian military survived on:

“The Russian national security state thrives on the announcement of big projects, but not so much on their fulfillment.”

There is quite a bit of MSM skepticism regarding the projects, despite some of them, such as the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle even successfully passing its state trials and being ready to deploy, and the Kinzhal hypersonic missiles which were already delivered to the Russian Armed Forces.

At the same time, on November 5th reports surfaced of the US successfully testing its own weaponized laser.

The Stryker-fired laser, in development for several years, is part of the US Army’s Initial Maneuver Short Range Air Defense (IM-SHORAD) program designed to bring air-and-missile defense back to armored vehicles on the move in combat.

The program will deliver 50 kilowatt (kW)-class lasers on a platoon of four Stryker vehicles in Fiscal Year 2022, an Army report stated.

“The time is now to get directed energy weapons to the battlefield,” Lt. Gen. Neil Thurgood, Director of Hypersonics, Directed Energy, Space and Rapid Acquisition, said in an Army report. “The Army recognizes the need for directed energy lasers as part of the Army’s modernization plan. This is no longer a research effort or a demonstration effort. It is a strategic combat capability, and we are on the right path to get it in Soldiers’ hands.

Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, are subcontractors in an Other Transaction Authority (OTA) agreement between the Army and Kord Technologies.

“It is all about the ability to put photons on target. It is a system that can be deployed rapidly from a stowed position. It can engage an enemy at the speed of light. It has to be able to shoot from a moving platform and engage a moving target through an air column that can be full of rain, dust or turbulence — and hold that energy on target long enough to get the desired effect,” Mark Skinner, Vice President of Directed Energy, Northrop Grumman said.

And despite the MSM reports that the Russian laser weapons and such are simply a fairytale, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is reportedly looking at ways to protect aircraft from laser weapons.

DARPA is looking for anti-laser defensive technology ideas that can detect an attack, geo-locate the attacker and disrupt the laser weapon’s kill chain within milliseconds of an attack starting. The agency said its ideal defensive system would do all three functions.

DARPA notes that laser weapons are being improved using technology from civilian industries.

“In recent years, high-power fiber and semiconductor laser technology has improved rapidly, with power density increasing by an order of magnitude or more. Much of this increase has been driven by demand for industrial cutting machines and high-bandwidth, long-range telecommunications,” the agency said. “These same laser materials and devices can also be used by directed-energy weapons for both destructive and deteriorating effects, such as temporary blinding or degrading electro-optical/infrared sensors.”

DARPA said it is strongly interested in a “pre-fire” system, a defensive measure which finds and stops a laser weapon before the attack.

“Approaches that disrupt the [high-energy laser] kill chain, as well as approaches that harden platforms and munitions to allow a kinetic attack on [high-energy laser] systems are of interest,” it said.

The reports in recent days are essentially a typical example of propaganda, with the US reportedly successfully testing its laser and the necessity to play down the alleged success of the Russian side.

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