Russia's Combat Laser Systems
18:19 GMT 14.06.2023 (Updated: 18:41 GMT 17.06.2023)
Until the 1980s, laser weapons were considered the stuff of science fiction, with engineers needing to solve a range of complex problems, like how to generate enough power to create laser pulses powerful enough to destroy enemy targets. Major advances have since been made. Check out three laser systems fielded by Russia's military.
Russia has invested heavily in military lasers, which include the Zadira, designed to fry enemy drones at distances up to 5 km, to the Peresvet, a strategic laser platform designed to disable enemy spacecraft at altitudes up to 1,500 km, plus hostile drones at long ranges. Rounding out the trio is the Sokol-Eshelon, an anti-satellite laser weapons system originating in the Soviet period, and consisting of an airborne laser attached to a modified Il-76 transport hauler known as the Beriev A-60 laser laboratory. That system can disable spacecraft at altitudes up to 1,500 km using a laser embedded in its rear, in a slot carved behind the wing center section.
Lasers have several advantages over conventional missiles, particularly when it comes to the cost of a pulse compared to a traditional rocket. But a number of drawbacks are also known to exist, including need to find ways to access large amounts of electricity. Environmental factors like cloud cover can also reduce the effectiveness of lasers dramatically.
Check out the infographic prepared by Sputnik for 3D renders of the three Russian laser types.