The LAG II
The Chinese government unveiled the LAG II, which stands for Low Altitude Guard II, on a nationally broadcast demonstration on state television. The new laser weapon was shown to accurately and rapidly destroy airborne drones by superheating the targets.
To operate, the LAG II is mounted on its own carriage that’s towed by a separate vehicle.
Once in position, the laser scans the area for targets and is capable of automatically tracking and locking onto multiple targets. An operator manually chooses a target to destroy, and the laser can (almost instantaneously) superheat the target.
This laser is powerful enough so that, according to the report, when it is linked to a fire control radar, it could potentially shoot down enemy artillery shells, rockets, and even missiles. It may sound a little intimidating, but keep in mind that it is meant to serve defensive purposes.
The new prototype is an upgrade from the LAG I, first unveiled in 2014. It possessed a 10 kilowatt beam and is able to track and destroy targets from up to 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away. The Chinese government has yet to disclose the specs on the new LAG II, though we know that it has a removable dome that protects the laser’s electro-optical camera and active components when not in combat
Weapons of this type, called “directed-energy” weapons, are designed to take down drones or disable specific parts of hostile vehicles. The cost of firing such weapons is relatively low, and the rising use of drone technology around the world means that militaries are likely to make use of these weapons more and more in the future.
Indeed, there have been a number of issues with drones flying into banned airspace. In March of this year, a man was detained for flying a drone near the White House in the United States. Other cases involve a host of individuals utilizing drone technology to spy on celebrities, such a Miley Cyrus. It may be a long ways off yet, but the LAG II could be used to help combat these intrusions.
The LAG II is now being evaluated by the PLA (the People’s Liberation Army) for anti-drone missions.