Does Russia have a laser weapon and what can it do?

Laser weapons are fast, accurate, discreet, and cost-effective. Moscow says it is already using laser weapons in the war against Ukraine. What can these weapons do and does Russia have them?

The Kremlin has announced that Russia has begun using new modern laser weapons in its battles with Ukraine. At a press conference broadcast on Russia’s First Channel, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov explained that Russia’s laser weapon is called Zadira and is used to shoot down Ukrainian drones, Deutsche Welle reported.

Zadira may be part of an intercontinental ballistic missile system that includes the Peresvet laser component. Borissov said Peresvet was already in use and could dazzle satellites 1,500 km above the Earth.
“If Peresvet only blinds, then the new laser weapons destroy the target – they burn it directly,” Borissov added. However, military experts have doubts about the veracity of Moscow’s claims.

What is a laser weapon?

The laser weapon generates a beam of concentrated light that can heat an object until it burns it completely. A high-energy laser can burn a hole in thick steel in seconds. The beam travels at the speed of light, has a much greater range than ordinary projectiles, and can hit its target with extreme accuracy. Such weapons can work discreetly, as generating a light beam does not emit loud noise. Most importantly, such weapons are very cost-effective because they do not need ammunition, but only the energy needed to shoot the light beam. The Dutch research center TNO, which develops technology for laser weapons, reports that a beam fired from the system costs even less than 1 euro.

All of these factors have made laser weapons a very attractive investment for armies around the world. Last summer, the U.S. military said it had tested a laser weapon. In April, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wrote on his Twitter account that his country’s armed forces had successfully tested “the world’s first” laser weapon capable of dropping drones, missiles, and projectiles.

Many other countries, including France, Britain, and China, are said to be working on their laser weapons projects.

Does Russia use laser weapons in Ukraine?

“Several countries are currently studying the technology and ways to use these weapons. Russia is probably one of those countries,” said TNO spokesman Maarten Lortzer. “However, due to the confidentiality of such projects, we have no information on the status of testing.”

The US Department of Defense claims that the United States has not found any evidence to support Russia’s claim that it is already using laser weapons in the war with Ukraine.

If they were already using one, it would help Moscow a lot against one of the biggest threats to them in Ukraine, namely drones.

With its drones, the Ukrainian army has already managed to trip up the Russian armed forces several times. In addition to the drones delivered to Ukraine by NATO members, the Ukrainians managed to detect and attack Russian targets with their military and commercial drones.

Yuri Borisov said Russia’s Zadira had already shot down a Ukrainian drone in just five seconds from a distance of five kilometers. The Kremlin also claims that the Russian army can use these weapons to confuse satellites and military cameras and radars. Lasers can also blind soldiers, an application that is banned by the 1995 International Convention.

Miracle weapons

Australian Major General Mick Ryan says Russian allegations should not be taken too seriously. The country has long loved to show off its military might, Ryan told the Washington Post.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Russia’s claims about the laser weapon “a clear sign of the absolute failure of the invasion.” According to him, this is proof that “the Kremlin is afraid to admit the catastrophic mistakes that were made at the highest state and military level in Russia.”

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