Russia said on Wednesday that it was employing a new generation of strong laser guns to burn down drones in Ukraine, deploying some of Moscow’s secret weaponry to counter a torrent of Western arms delivered to the former Soviet republic.
In 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin showcased a new intercontinental ballistic missile, underwater nuclear drones, a supersonic weapon, and a new laser weapon.
Little is known about the new laser guns’ specifications. Putin highlighted Peresvet, which was named after Alexander Peresvet, a medieval Orthodox warrior monk who died in mortal conflict.
Peresvet, according to Yury Borisov, the deputy prime minister in charge of military development, is already extensively deployed and can blind satellites up to 1,500 kilometers above Earth.
However, he said that there were already more powerful Russian systems than Peresvet capable of destroying drones and other equipment. Borisov mentioned a Tuesday test in which he claimed a drone 5 kilometers away was destroyed in five seconds.
“If Peresvet blinds, then the latest generation of laser weaponry results in the target’s physical devastation – thermal destruction, they burn up,” Borisov told Russian state television.
Borisov said when asked if such weapons were deployed in Ukraine: “Yes. There, the first prototypes are already in use.” He stated the weapon’s name was “Zadira.”
Almost nothing is known about Zadira, although Russian media reported in 2017 that Russia’s state nuclear enterprise, Rosatom, assisted in its development as part of a program to develop weapons-based new physical principles known as ONFP in Russian.
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 demonstrated the limitations of Russia’s post-Soviet conventional armed forces, despite his claims that the “special military operation” is moving according to plan and would fulfill all of Moscow’s objectives.
Although the US has ruled out deploying its own or NATO soldiers to Ukraine, it has provided Kyiv with billions of dollars worth of armaments, including drones, Howitzer heavy artillery, anti-aircraft Stinger, and anti-tank Javelin missiles.
Such big weaponry supplies are seen by Putin as part of a larger US strategy to destroy Russia, which he promises would never succeed.
Borisov’s comments suggest that Russia has made substantial progress with laser weapons, a trend that other nuclear countries such as the US and China are watching closely.
Using lasers to blind or even destroy satellites was considered a science fiction dream, but major nations like the United States, China, and Russia have been developing variations of such weapons for years.
Aside from the tactical advantages of destroying drones in conventional combat, blinding reconnaissance equipment has a strategic consequence since satellites are used to track intercontinental ballistic missiles that carry nuclear bombs.
Borisov stated he had just come from Sarov, a secluded town in the Nizhny Novgorod region that was originally known as Arzamas-16 due of its secrecy and is now a center of Russian nuclear weapons research.
He predicted that a new generation of laser weapons with a broad electromagnetic band will eventually supplant conventional weapons.
“This is not some fantastical notion; it is fact,” Borisov explained.