Moscow says it is using a new generation of powerful lasers in Ukraine to burn up drones, deploying some of the country’s secret weapons to counter a flood of Western arms.
Russia has begun using the prototype of a new laser weapon in Ukraine that is capable of hitting a target 5 kilometres away, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, as Western arms flood Ukraine.
The state news agency Tass quoted Borisov as saying on national television on Wednesday that the prototype of a new laser weapon was tested on Tuesday against a drone, incinerating it within five seconds.
Borisov said a new generation of laser weapons will eventually allow Russia to conserve its expensive long-range missiles.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018 unveiled an
intercontinental ballistic missile, underwater nuclear drones, a
supersonic weapon and a laser weapon.
Little is known about the specifics of the new laser.
mentioned one called Peresvet, named after a medieval Orthodox
warrior monk Alexander Peresvet who perished in mortal combat.
Borisov told a conference in Moscow that Peresvet
was already being widely deployed and it could blind satellites
up to 1,500 km above Earth.
He said there were already more powerful systems than
Peresvet that could burn up drones and other equipment.
“If Peresvet blinds, then the new generation of laser
weapons lead to the physical destruction of the target –– thermal
destruction, they burn up,” he told Russian state television.
Asked if such weapons were being used in Ukraine, Borisov
said: “Yes. The first prototypes are already being used there.”
He said the weapon was called “Zadira”.
‘Failure of the mission’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy mockingly compared
news of the lasers to the so-called wonder weapons that Nazi
Germany unveiled in a bid to prevent defeat in World War Two.
“The clearer it became that they had no chance in the war,
the more propaganda there was about an amazing weapon that would
be so powerful as to ensure a turning point,” he said in a late-night video address.
“And so we see that in the third month of a full-scale war,
Russia is trying to find its ‘wonder weapon’ … this all
clearly shows the complete failure of the mission.”
Almost nothing is publicly known about Zadira but in 2017
Russian media said state nuclear corporation Rosatom helped
develop it as part of a programme to create weapons-based new
The offensive on Ukraine has illustrated the limits of
Russia’s post-Soviet conventional armed forces, though Putin
says the “special military operation” is going to plan.
Replace conventional weapons
Borisov’s remarks indicate Russia has made significant
progress with laser weapons, a trend of considerable interest to
other nuclear powers such as the United States and China.
Using lasers to blind satellites was once a fantasy from the
realm of science fiction, but the United States, China and
Russia have been working on variants of such weapons for years.
Besides the benefit of burning up drones, blinding
reconnaissance systems have a strategic impact too as satellites
are used to monitor intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying
Borisov said he had just returned from Sarov, which is a
centre of Russia’s nuclear weapons research. He said a new
generation of laser weapons using a wide electromagnetic band
would ultimately replace conventional weapons.
“This is not some sort of exotic idea; it is the reality,” Borisov said.