China has developed an anti-drone laser technology that can apparently shoot down a low flying drone within a two kilometer radius.
The official Xinhua news agency reports that the technology has been co-developed by the China Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP), with the claim being that small-scale drones can be shot down within five seconds of the system locking on.
It said the reason for using laser as an anti-drone tech is to increase the accuracy with which drones can be blasted out of the sky — vs other less precision methods such as using a sniper or intercepting by helicopter. A test of the technology with more than 30 drones apparently resulted in a 100 per cent success rate.
The system will be installed or transported in vehicles, and used to bolster security during “major events in urban areas”, according to a CAEP statement.
There’s no quantification of how small-scale the drones have to be to be terminated by laser, but the CAEP statement specifies they must be within an altitude of 500 meters and flying at a speed below 50m/s. Lasers with greater power and range are also apparently being developed by the Academy.
An official involved in the project said the laser is being specifically developed to combat the risk posed by low cost, easy to use drone tech being misappropriated by terrorists to threaten public safety or national security, by engaging in unauthorized mapping activities of military or civil facilities.
By coincidence, French power company EDF has just launched an investigation after unidentified drones were flown over seven of its nuclear facilities last month. It’s unclear who is responsible for flying the drones but the commercialization of drone technology has driven down costs, putting the ability to buzz a nuclear facility within reach of far more people.
The U.S. military has also been testing an anti-drone laser which is being developed by Boeing (demoed in the below video), although this High Energy Laser is primarily intended to shoot down rockets, artillery and mortar rounds, rather than drones: