Chinese military could soon disable sensors on enemy missiles using suitcase-sized device after ‘groundbreaking’ study on ultrafast lasers

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The Chinese destroyer Wuhan leads a fleet of naval ships ahead of a joint exercise with Russia in the Sea of Japan. At present, high-frequency lasers used to tackle missiles are the size of huge containers. Photo: AP

 

A breakthrough in laser technology may give the Chinese military the ability to blind the sensors on enemy missiles or even satellites using a portable device the size of a suitcase, rather than the large container-sized version typically found on warships.

A research team led by Professor Li Zhiyuan with the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Physics reported that they had reduced the sophisticated mechanism that generates a high-frequency laser down to a single piece of crystal.

This means the huge ultrafast laser generator that is used to render heat-seeking missiles useless, and which can be found on warships today, could be shrunk to the size of hand baggage and mounted on aircraft, tanks or even soldiers. Continue reading

The Pentagon’s $10-billion bet gone bad

Leaders of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency were effusive about the new technology.

It was the most powerful radar of its kind in the world, they told Congress. So powerful it could detect a baseball over San Francisco from the other side of the country.

If North Korea launched a sneak attack, the Sea-Based X-Band Radar — SBX for short — would spot the incoming missiles, track them through space and guide U.S. rocket-interceptors to destroy them.

Crucially, the system would be able to distinguish between actual missiles and decoys.

SBX “represents a capability that is unmatched,” the director of the Missile Defense Agency told a Senate subcommittee in 2007.

In reality, the giant floating radar has been a $2.2-billion flop, a Los Angeles Times investigation found. Continue reading