Directed Energy Weapons:- India’s Strategic Game Changer?
In a leap towards building laser weapons capability, India has made a breakthrough in its efforts to develop directed energy weapons, or DEWs, that can potentially end future wars before they begin.
It’s not exactly what we saw in Star Wars films or Flash Gordon comics decades ago, but DEWs such as high powered lasers can destroy enemy missiles, aircraft and advanced weaponry based on electronic circuitry.
The future weapon system that is likely to change the course of war is the Directed Energy Weapon (DEW), which is created on electromagnetic pulse effects, in addition to a variety of other means, without a nuclear blast.* DEWs can be termed as the apex in weapons technology innovatory, apt for dealing with all kinds of asymmetric challenges, including unmanned and light aircraft. DEWs are capable of destroying a target by emitting and transferring extreme levels of energy towards the target. The energy emitted by DEWs can be available in the form of electromagnetic radiation, microwaves, lasers and masers, and particles with mass.* DEWs encompass two distinct fields; high-energy lasers and high power microwaves.
Using laser beams and other concentrated sources, DEWs are the future in so far as military laser (acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”) technologies are concerned. Of these, laser weapons by far lead the DEWs pack. The precision of a laser beam weapon is unrivalled primarily owing to its speed, akin to that of light. DEWs are fast racing towards being the most sought after option in comparison to conventional projectile weapons including missile systems, given their accuracy as mentioned earlier, and the range of these weapons, which is far greater than any conventional munitions.
The applicability of laser weapons, more specifically against aerial and naval targets is significant, although the range is subject to meeting certain vital variables including atmospheric conditions and availability of power. Laser weapons can produce a series of strikes, which can be limited only by its power supply. From a military application point of view, a laser weapon is required to generate at the least, a 100-Kilowatt beam. More importantly, for targeting anti-ship missiles, the laser device is required to generate at least one Megawatt of power.
The DEWs aim without using a projectile, and are far more cost effective in comparison to the huge cost estimates surrounding a single missile launch. With military technology innovation on fast track mode, laser weapons are the tool of the future, albeit having to overcome certain looming challenges. These include, determining the final potency of the beam, which gets affected considerably by atmospheric conditions such as clouds, rain, and smog. The laser device requires an expedient source of abundant electricity generation, in addition to efficient cooling equipment that would aid in avoiding any damage caused by overheating.
India is currently working upon a series of DEWs to improve its anti-ballistic missile capability. According to officials at the Laser Science and Technology Center (LASTEC), a laboratory developing lasers and related technologies, belonging to the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) – an agency under India’s Ministry of Defence working on various areas of military technology while striving to meet cutting edge weapons technology requirements – a laser weapon (one among the DEWs pack) could fire a beam with a potency of 25 kilowatts to intercept and destruct an incoming ballistic missile in its terminal phase within the range of seven kilometers (4.3 miles).
LASTEC projects include :
1.Hand-held laser dazzler to disorient adversaries, without collateral damage. 50-metre range.
2.Crowd-control dazzlers mounted on vehicles to dispel rioting mobs. 250-metre range.
Status: Will take 2 more years.
3.Laser-based ordnance disposal system, which can be used to neutralise IEDs and other explosives from a distance.
Status: Trials begin in 18 months.
4.Air defence dazzlers to take on enemy aircraft and helicopters at range of 10 km.
Status: Will take 2 more years.
5.25-kilowatt laser systems to destroy missiles during their terminal phase at range of 5 to 7 km.
Status: Will take 5 more years.
6.At least 100-kilowatt solid-state laser systems, mounted on aircraft and ships, to destroy missiles in their boost phase itself.
Status: Will take a decade.
Source:- Foreign Policy, Defence Catalogue Facebook Page