Last week it was announced that Russia’s Armed Forces have begun working with prototype laser weapons. That’s right, according to the state-operated news agency RIA Novosti, the country’s soldiers are training with new and advanced forms or laser weaponry.
As is usually the case in dealings with Russians and guns, the specifics are a bit sketchy. But what is known is that the country is dusting off some older research in pumping new life into the development of "weapons based on new physical principles."
This is a term that refers to directed-energy, geophysical and wave-energy weapons. Russia has dedicated significant resources to developing high-power laser weapons since the mid-1950s.
They even gave them awesome Saturday morning cartoon names like the Falcon Echelon, Terra and Omega programs, all of which focused on developing laser-based weapons for use on land, water and in space.
Most weapon and military experts admit that Russia was the first country to achieve significant results in the field of laser weapons and progressed more quickly than their U.S. counterparts.
It’s speculated that the new Russian laser weapons are focused on three primary applications:
- The first would be aircraft-mounted lasers that could disrupt optoelectronic equipment, sensors and radar in countering reconnaissance systems in space, at sea and on land. The U.S. has similar weaponry but its primary focus lies in targeting foreign intercontinental ballistic missiles and their mode of transport.
- Another would be Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones used for sea-based ballistic missile defense, jamming electronic surveillance and targeting homing guidance systems.
- Finally, these weapons could be used by ground forces in rendering any optical or electronic equipment ineffective, basically blinding the enemy.
So although issues like signal scatter still prevent the advent of weapons like Han Solo’s trusty blaster, these new laser weapons systems would offer significant advantages in the age of electronic warfare.