Shivali Best — Mail Online July 31, 2017
Russia says it will deploy powerful lasers on its new sixth-generation fighter jets to destroy enemy missiles.
The lasers will be able to ‘burn’ enemy homing systems on attacking missiles, according to the Russian defence industry.
But it could be a while before we see the aircraft lasers in action, with experts predicting they won’t be ready until at least 2035.
Russia plans to implement the lasers on its sixth-generation MiG-41 aircraft.
Speaking to Russian news agency, TASS, Vladimir Mikheyev, the Adviser to the First Deputy CEO of Radio-Electronic Technologies Group (KRET), said: ‘We already have laser protection systems installed on aircraft and helicopters, and now we are talking about developments in the field of powered lasers that will be able to physically destroy attacking missiles’ homing heads.
‘Roughly speaking, we’ll be able to burn out “the eyes’ of missiles that “look at us.”
‘Naturally, such systems will be installed on sixth-generation aircraft as well.’
While Mr Mikheyev is optimistic about the laser aircraft, it could be a while before they are deployed.
Experts speaking to National Interest said that the sixth generation aircraft is still at the stage of conceptual design.
Vasily Kashin, a Russian defence analyst at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics (HSE) told The National Interest that the sixth generation aircraft would be ‘at best deployed by 2035-40.’
Alongside the laser aircraft, Mr Mikheyev sees a swarm of unmanned drones being deployed.
He said: ‘One drone in a formation flight will carry microwave weapons, including guided electronic munitions while another drone will carry radio-electronic suppression and destruction means, and a third UAV will be armed with a set of standard weaponry.’
The news comes just two months after the US army successfully hit an unmanned target using a high-powered laser mounted on an Apache AH-64 helicopter.
The demonstration was the first time a fully integrated laser system was successfully fired on a target from a rotary-wing aircraft, according to defence company Raytheon who manufactured the device.
The weapon is almost silent and invisible which makes it particularly hard for enemies to detect and could be used on the battlefield in the near future.
The laser, which was tested at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico successfully hit a target 0.9 miles (1.4 km) away.
The laser was manufactured by Raytheon who said their device ‘provides long-range surveillance, target acquisition, tracking, range finding and laser designation’.
Laser systems have been on the Apache since 1984 when it first entered service, but they were low-powered and could only guide air-to-ground missiles.
These lasers are particularly accurate because unlike bullets and artillery which fire in an arch, they fire in straight lines and are powerful enough to destroy targets.