June 30, 2022

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The war in Ukraine: what is the truth behind Russia’s declared laser weapons

debt, Getty Images

Photo caption,

Russia claims to have destroyed the drone using a laser – In the photo, a Ukrainian soldier holds an anti-drone weapon in Kiev

Russia claims to have used laser weapons on the battlefield in Ukraine, but the United States says it has not found any evidence, and Ukraine has ridiculed the claim as propaganda.

But what are laser weapons and how effective are they in conflict?

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, in charge of military development, told state television that a laser prototype called Jadira was being used in Ukraine and that it had burned a Ukrainian drone five kilometers away in five seconds.

It incorporates an earlier laser system called the Perezwet – named after a medieval traditional warrior monk – who used it to clear satellites orbiting above the earth and stop collecting information.

“If Perezvet goes blind, the new generation of laser weapons will lead to physical destruction of the target – heat destruction, they burn,” Borisov said.

However, a US defense official said in Ukraine that “there is nothing to support reports of laser use.”

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky mocked the Russian claim, comparing it to the so-called “miracle weapons” that Nazi Germany created during World War II.

“If it was clear that they had no chance in battle, there would have been a campaign about an amazing weapon that would be powerful enough to guarantee a turn,” he said in a video speech.

Laser weapons can and cannot do anything

Not much is known about the Zadira laser system, but in 2017, the Russian media reported that the state nuclear company Rosatom helped develop it as part of a plan to build weapons based on new principles in physics, Reuters reports.

But there is one country that has developed a laser weapon. Last month, Israel released a video of the laser system shooting down rockets and drones.

Israeli Prime Minister Naphtali Bennett said drones, motors and rockets could be shot down for $ 3.50 a shot.

“It may sound like science fiction, but it’s real,” he said.

But Uzi Rubin, a missile defense expert at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS), believes laser weapons technology will not change the balance of power on the battlefield in Ukraine.

“Zhelensky is right – this is not a miracle weapon,” he told the BBC.

“It took several seconds to shoot down a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) called a drone. There are many better ways to do this. Using a stinger or any anti-aircraft missile would have been cheaper, faster and more efficient. More access.”

Lasers operate by sending a beam of infrared light that heats up their target until it burns.

Rubin argues that even the power of advanced laser weapons was too weak to make a significant difference on the battlefield, and that these weapons had a low “death rate.”

The laser can only focus on one target at a time, Rubin adds, while missile defense systems can destroy multiple targets simultaneously.

In addition, lasers are neutralized by bad weather because they do not work in rain or snow and cannot penetrate clouds.

However, Israel’s “iron beam” has a logic, but he says it is often a way to save money. Expensive Iron Dome interceptor missiles are designed to protect major cities from incoming missiles rather than motors or drones.

“Missile war is a war of resources. Rocket production is cheaper than defense against rockets. So anything you can do to reduce defense costs will be effective,” he explains.

“Energy weapons are effective in cutting costs – but they are not revolutionary.”

In addition, retired Australian Army Brigadier General Mick Ryan told the Washington Post that Russia could use warheads to blind Ukrainian soldiers, although this is prohibited under UN protocol 1995.

The countries that have signed the protocol include Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom.

History of ‘Miracle Weapons’

Zhelensky’s note on “miracle weapons” – Wunderwafen – The return of the German Nazi campaign spread at a time when the War of the Horks was going badly for them.

The propaganda ministry, led by Joseph Goebbels, sought to boost the morale of the population and convince the Germans of victory, insisting that new special weapons would arrive, which would “turn” the war in their favor.

“The campaign said: ‘Let’s take revenge and turn this around. I’m not surprised that Zhelensky referred to this episode of World War II,” he told the BBC.

There was disappointment when that did not happen – but the idea that these new weapons could have been decisive remains to this day, Newfeld notes, as he fought his life through it.

However, he warns against drawing directly in parallel with Russia’s announcement of laser weapons, saying that Moscow always advertises its arsenal with references to nuclear and hypersonic weapons.

“It may be premature to see this as a reactionary event as the war is going badly,” he says.

“At the beginning of the war, they thought that talking about these new weapons would intimidate and abandon Ukraine. Now they can go back and say that they are superior.”

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