China /

Chinese Military Develops High-Energy Laser That Can Operate Infinitely

Researchers: 'This is a huge breakthrough in improving the performance of high-energy laser systems'

Scientists working for the Chinese military have announced breakthrough technology, saying they have developed a new cooling system that allows high-energy lasers to operate infinitely with no buildup of heat.

High-energy laser weapons have the ability to change war fighting by giving militaries a low-cost, high-impact weapon that is reusable, doesn’t leave collateral damage or require thousands of pounds of ammunition to be transported, and can take out enemy drones, planes, ships, and vehicles without six- or seven-figure missiles.

A team from the National University of Defense Technology, in China’s Hunan province, says the cooling system they created will now allow laser beams to operate for as long as they want with no interruption or performance degradation.

“This is a huge breakthrough in improving the performance of high-energy laser systems,” the research team said in a paper published in Acta Optica Sinnica, a Chinese peer-reviewed journal. The paper was quoted by the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

“High-quality beams can be produced not only in the first second, but also maintained indefinitely,” the team said. “Since the invention of the first ruby laser in 1960, people have been enthusiastic about transitioning from kinetic energy to laser energy for the rapid projection of energy at the speed of light, dreaming of laser beams to become ‘death rays’ that can instantly kill targets.”

China’s latest development presents a direct challenge to the U.S. military, which has also been racing toward the deployment of directed-energy weapons, which includes laser weaponry.

Last year, the U.S. Navy deployed laser weaponry, giving it, as New Atlas described, a “theoretically unlimited supply of ammunition so long as power is available, allowing for costs of about a dollar per shot.”

U.S. Defense contractor Lockheed Martin recently announced it was scaling up its highest powered laser for use by all six military branches.

“The 500-kW laser will incorporate our successes from the 300-kW system and lessons learned from legacy programs to further prove the capability to defend against a range of threats,” the company said.

The U.S. Army was projected to have an entire platoon of laser-armed fighting vehicles in 2023.

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