With a military budget second only to the United States, the Chinese military is one of the very few which has been able to invest on a myriad of technologies to further boost its claim as a global superpower.
In addition to the new stealth fighters, killer drones, tanks and carrier-killing missiles that it unveiled this year, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army also introduced portable laser weapons, which are much closer to laser guns found in science fiction, PopSci reported.
While not (yet) exactly similar to the weapons found in Star Wars, PLA’s laser guns have an important role in future warfare. . Local weapons manufacturers have been marketing the laser guns as means to attack and disable heat-seeking sensors on missiles, satellites, and others enemy targets.
The laser can also reportedly pick up encrypted communications and detect stealth aircraft. One thing it can’t do, however, is blast humans into smithereens as the 1998 Protocol of Blinding Laser Weapons prohibits the use of laser and other similar blinding weapons against people.
One of the systems displayed at last year’s domestic Chinese police expo, the PY132A laser can be an effective tool against enemy drones, while the Low Altitude Guard laser turret is said to be good for taking down small UAVs in police and law enforcement operations.
For military use, the PLA has more powerful versions, such as the PY132A, WJG-202, and BBQ-905 laser rifles. These laser weapons are expected to be very useful in blinding slow flying UAVs or in destroying thermal imagers of enemy tanks. Knocking out enemy security cameras and rendering sensors useless are also easier now with the use of these bad boys.
However, while these functionalities technically meet the international protocols, concerns that it may harm humans as possible “collateral” damage have been rightfully raised.
These considerations and major technological limitations are reasons we won’t be seeing PLA troops carrying blasters or phasers to battle yet. Knowing the Chinese government, it is just a matter of time for it to find ways to work around these limitations.