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China Says It's Developed A Laser To Bring Down Drones

China says it has developed a laser capable of destroying a small drone flying at a low altitude.

The official state news agency Xinhua reports:

"The machine is able to shoot down various small aircraft within a two-kilometer radius and can do so in five seconds after locating its target, said a statement released Sunday by the China Academy of Engineering Physics, one of the system's co-developers.

"Characterized by its speed, precision and low noise, the system is designed to destroy unmanned, small-scale drones flying within an altitude of 500-m and at a speed below 50m/s, it said.

"'Intercepting such drones is usually the work of snipers and helicopters, but their success rate is not as high and mistakes with accuracy can result in unwanted damage,' said Yi Jinsong, a manager with China Jiuyuan Hi-Tech Equipment Corp., a group under the academy spearheading the project."

The Guardian reports that pictures of the weapon showed "large metal boxes in camouflage paint and the wreckage of a small drone, some of it burning."

Xinhua reports the weapon may be used to provide security at big events in urban areas.

The United States, for its part, unveiled a similar weapon last year. As we reported, it deployed the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) to the Persian Gulf aboard the USS Ponce.

At the time, Peter A. Morrision, program officer for ONR's Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation Program said that "the future is here."

We'll leave you with the video they released at the time of the giant laser in action:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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