Laser weapons operational in Russian armed forces

Like China and the US, Russia has got operational laser weapons which can hit assigned targets, Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said in an interview with the Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper. "We can talk a lot about laser weapons. Films were shot about them a long time ago and fantastic books were written, and everyone is aware of them. But the fact that these systems have become operational is indeed a new reality," Borisov said.

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Laser weapon on low-bed trailer (Picture source: Russian MoD/YouTube)

"Starting from last year laser systems have been entering service to disarm a potential adversary and hit its facilities," Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said. The Russian scientists have learned to focus the necessary energy to hit adversary armaments "within fractions of a second."

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the creation of laser weapons in his State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly on March 1. Putin said these laser systems significantly expand Russia’s possibilities to ensure its security.

Russian laser weapons are mounted either on aircraft or on massive low-bed wheeled trailers, which means they are mobile. One may consider ships could – if not will – also be armed with laser weapons.

The classic illustration of this type of armament is an anti-satellite weapon. The laser weapon was developed thanks to the know-how accumulated by the Beriev A-60 airborne laser laboratory. “An evolution of this system has taken place; the completed work will allow us to make a step forward in the creation of such aircraft,” a source said.

The source added that a “fundamentally new” aircraft would be created to carry the laser weapon, and that it would not be based on the Il-76MD “Candid” heavy strategic airlifter. A decision on this issue will be made by the Ministry of Defense.

In 2016, Russian defense R&D concern NPO Almaz announced that they were working on an airborne military laser system designed to suppress enemy air and space-based reconnaissance platforms.

Recent work is a progression of experiments which began during the late Soviet period with the A-60 laser laboratory, based on a modified Il-76MD. Work on that project was temporarily frozen in 2011, before resuming in 2012. A deep modernization of the system was completed in 2016, with flight testing continuing since then.

Evidently, the US is developing its own, missile-based anti-satellite weapons. They could become combat-ready as soon as 2020.Last February, US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats published his 2018 ‘Worldwide Threat Assessment’, in which he cited Russian and Chinese pursuit of anti-satellite weapons “as a means to reduce US and allied military effectiveness.” According to Coats, in the event of conflict, the countries would use anti-satellite systems “to offset any perceived US military advantage derived from military, civil, or commercial space systems.”

The Russian MoD has released video footage showing its new mobile high-energy laser weapon system. The appearance of these modern laser weapon system in Russia has been a real surprise. To date, almost nothing is known about the new complex. The only information so far was that Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an address to the lawmakers and the senators from both houses of the Russian parliament, said that since 2017, Russian military forces have already received combat laser systems. He also demonstrated footage with a new Russian combat laser system. This complex probably and partly solves the problem of anti-missile defense: the use of a laser beam is much more economical than the use of standard antimissiles, and its accuracy is much higher.