US lasers? PLA preparing to raise its deflector shields

Chinese scientists say they have developed protective coatings that would render weapons like the US’ ship-mounted laser useless in battle

Laser weapons like those developed by the United States pose little threat to the PLA – smog or no smog – because mainland researchers have pioneered coatings that can deflect beams and render them harmless, mainland scientists say.

PLA Navy Rear Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong drew widespread ridicule last month when the National Defence University researcher suggested that China’s thick smog provided the country’s best defence against military lasers, like the gun the US Navy plans to deploy aboard a vessel in the Middle East this summer.

But scientists said such weapons represent a small advantage – even on clear, cloudless days – as coatings have been developed to turn away lasers or even reflect them back to their source.

Thus, Chinese military researchers tend to regard the “game-changing” laser that the Pentagon plans to deploy on the USS Ponce as a paper tiger – more of a vanity project than a real concern.

Professor Huang Chenguang, a specialist in high-energy laser beams at the Chinese Academy of Sciences who is involved in military research, said any laser, no matter how powerful or destructive, was still composed of light that could be deflected by various materials.

After extensive research, Chinese scientists can now manipulate the physical and chemical properties of anti-laser materials and precisely control the amount of reflection, or absorption, of lasers, Huang said.

Lasers, including laser weapons, concentrate high amounts of energy at sensitive spots on a target, such as missile’s guidance system or an aircraft’s engine. If most of that energy is reflected, the most powerful laser weapons could be as harmless as a torch.

“Fortunately, we can usually make a good guess on the type of laser used by any system,” Huang added. “Openly available information such as the system’s size, power consumption, major components and laser generation methods can determine the nature of laser beams.

“Then, you just select the appropriate coating to fortify sensitive areas with an anti-laser shield.”

Full article: US lasers? PLA preparing to raise its deflector shields (South China Morning Post)

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