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weapon and a microwave. In February this year,
                                                                       the service announced that it had deployed the
                                                                       company’s High-Energy Laser Weapon System
                                                                       2 (HELWS), a system designed to counter drone
                                                                       threats, to an unidentified combatant command
                                                                       base abroad for operator training and an initial   [ TECHNOLOGY ]
                                                                       performance evaluation. The service is also
                                                                       evaluating Raytheon’s PHASER High Power
                                                                       Microwave  System  (PHASER),  and  the  Air
                                                                       Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Tactical
                                                                       High-Power Operational Responder (THOR)
                                                                       drone killer.

        fully tested five directed energy prototype systems, including four   Buzzing with Activity
        high-energy lasers and one high-power microwave, as counter-un-  A  number  of  countries  in  the  Asia-Pacific
        manned aerial vehicle (UAV) weapons. “Directed energy weapons   region, including China, India, Japan,  Australia
        are emerging in the battlespace for all three services,” says Kelly   and Pakistan are vying for supremacy in the
        Hammett, who runs the Directed Energy Directorate at the U.S.   hypersonic and directed-energy weapons race.
        Air Force Research Laboratory. “You’re going to see them in your   China, the global leader in hypersonic weapons,
        battlespace, whether you like it or not. They may be aimed at you.”  is also developing directed-energy weapons.
                                                                       India, which is  developing the hypersonic
        Lasers in the Spotlight                                        BrahMos II missile, carried out a successful
        China, which has expanded its military might in the last two decades   flight test of a hypersonic technology demon-
        at a speed unmatched by any other country, used a ground-based   strator  vehicle  (HSTDV)  in  September  last
        laser to "dazzle" an orbiting U.S. satellite in 2006. The country is   year. The defence department is also eyeing
        also investing in other directed energy arms, including high-powered   a Tactical High Energy Laser System for the
        microwave, radio frequency, railgun, and particle beam weapons.   Army and Air Force. The Defence Research
        In 2020, the country’s military sought suppliers for a new airborne   and Development Organisation (DRDO) has
        laser weapon that could be used to defend a friendly aircraft from   also developed an anti-drone system that is
        incoming missile threats or destroy enemy aircraft and ground   capable of defeating micro drones through
        targets. The airborne laser pods are to be mounted to warplanes   either jamming of command-and-control links
        such as the Shenyang J-15 “Flying Shark” carrier-based fighter,   or by damaging the drones through laser-based
        J-20 “Mighty Dragon” heavy fighter, and support aircraft such as   DEW. The DRDO is also working on DURGA
        the Xi’an Y-20.                                                II (Directionally Unrestricted Ray-Gun Array),
           Russia, which  unveiled the Peresvet high-energy laser weapon   100-kilowatt,  lightweight  directed-energy
        in December 2018, is currently said to be working on new laser   system for the Indian Army.
        systems.  In January this year, Germany awarded a consortium
        comprising MBDA Deutschland and Rheinmetall a contract to      India Bets on Local
        build and test a prototype laser demonstrator for the German   India’s first anti-radiation missile, Rudram, is
        Navy’s K130 corvette. Israel’s Directorate of Defense Research and   expected to be ready for induction into service
        Development is developing laser-based systems that can down    by 2023 and will boost the Indian Air Force’s
        rockets, mortars, drones, and anti-tank missiles. Rafael Advanced   capabilities to defeat enemy radars and surveil-
        Defense Systems, Rafael’s new Drone Dome C-UAS system uses     lance systems. The defence department has
        a high-powered laser beam to detect, identify and intercept moving   also invested in the smart anti-airfield weapon
        targets, thus providing a solution for securing air space from hostile   (SAAW), a precision strike weapon that can
        drones. In June this year, Israel’s Defence Ministry announced that   be used to target enemy airfield assets such
        Elbit Systems and the Israeli Air Force had successfully shot down   as radars, bunkers, taxi tracks and runways.
        drones with a high-powered airborne laser system installed on a   SAAW, developed by the DRDO’s research
        civilian light aircraft. The laser, fired from a civilian Cessna plane,   centre Imarat, has a range of 100km and is
        destroyed the unmanned targets at differing ranges and altitudes,   expected to enter service in two years. The
        the ministry said.                                             country has also started work on Astra’ Mk2,
           In  November  2019,  the  US  Air  Force  successfully  tested   an indigenous beyond-visual-range (BVR) air-
        Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA)     to-air missile that will be able to strike enemy
        laser weapon system, shooting down a number of fixed-wing and   targets 160 km away without getting out of
        rotary drones. ATHENA is designed to defeat close-in, low-value   its own airspace. The Astra Mk 1 110 km ver-
        threats such as improvised rockets, unmanned aerial systems,   sion, which has been integrated with the IAF’s
        vehicles, and small boats. Raytheon, which has already delivered   Su-30 MKI fighters, will be used on the service’s
        the first high-energy counter-drone laser weapon system to the   MiG-29 and Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas’ Mk 1,
        U.S. Air Force, is contracted to provide the service another laser   and the Indian Navy’s MiG-29K aircraft.

        10 | June/July 2021                                                        WWW .GBP .COM.SG/ ADT
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