China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA Navy) unveiled a tactical laser system with a striking resemblance to a solid-state laser system tested by the US Navy in 2014, according to The Maritime Executive.


Appearing in a promotional video broadcast by state-owned channel CCTV, Beijing’s new laser can be deployed on both land and sea, and can be used for both close-in surface-to-surface combat and air defenses. According to CCTV, the laser could be mounted on the PLA Navy’s Type 055 destroyers as an alternative to the HHQ-10 surface-to-air missile.

China’s laser (left) vs Kratos Defense XN-1 LaWS

As The Maritime Executive notes, Beijing’s system looks limilar to the US Navy’s XN-1 LaWS system that was tested on the USS Ponce in 2014. The Navy reported that the system worked as designed against low-end asymmetric threats, and can be used at low power to dazzle enemies. At higher power it can fry sensors, burn out motors and detonate explosive materials. During one test, a UAV was able to shot down in as little as two seconds.

The satellite images were published by Indian Army Col. Vinayak Bhat, whose expertise is often widely cited in western media reports, and show a base with advanced satellite tracking capabilities and facilities which house large-scale lasers located about 145 miles south of the Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

A full report featuring the satellite imagery was published by the Washington Free Beacon which concluded alarmingly, “China likely is pursuing laser weapons to disrupt, degrade or damage sat­ellites and their sensors and possibly already has a limited capability to employ laser systems against satellite sensors.”

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According to the analysis:

“The Xinjiang base is one of those laser bases that include four main buildings with sliding roofs that Bhat assesses contain high-powered chemical lasers powered by neodymium.

Bhat estimates that the smaller shed with the sliding roof is a laser tracker. Taken together, the Chinese can fire one to three of the lasers against an orbiting satellite that China is seeking to disrupt.”

Giving credence to the claim, the report cites the US Defense Intelligence Agency which said in its own assessment published in February that China is set to deploy a ground based laser cannon at some point next year.

Meanwhile, last July we reported that China has a “laser AK-47” which its manufacturer claimed could set fire to a target from almost one kilometer away (.62 miles). After naysayers doubted the gun’s capabilities, the South China Morning Post featured a test video in response to the critics.

The company says the filmed test was not conducted at maximum range, citing “safety reasons, to avoid anyone accidentally walking into the beam” — as the beam is invisible and the device without sound, various objects are shown igniting, including clothing and even a tire. 

A company spokesman cited by the SCMP said “And after an upgrade it will be the world’s most advanced laser cannon – it will be able to take down a drone several kilometres away.”

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This article first appeared in Zero Hedge – you can follow them on Twitter @zerohedge

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  1. Bah, Thales just tested the (double!) most powerful laser on Earth with ‘just’ 2x 10 PetaWatts ? And they have such tactical lasers in stores and tested for a while, just awaiting EU militaries to order…
    Well, Tac-lasers have an advantage when it comes to price per shot… But a terrible disadvantage when it comes to purchase cost, e.g. the US Tac-laser shown on the 1st picture costs abut half a billion $… For such a price, you can purchase a FREMM frigate armed to the teeth and you may even consider adding an Iron-Dome battery if you fear the already very good protection means (Aster-30 is more efficient than Patriot PAC-3 -Scuds have no chances- and can even intercept P-800 Oniks without problem -98.5% of kill- ), SADRAL turret with multiple Mistral ManPADS as CIWS, moreover, we tested the Mistral ManPADS against speedboats, they work absolutely great. IMHO, clients should just ask for an improved version with 2 cannisters of 9-12 Mistral instead of 2x 3 individual cannisters. It wouldn’t be a big problem to operate such mod. Add to this, the 76/62 Super-Rapid gun has anti-air and anti-surface guided shells, add the anti-ship+cruise missiles, the torpedoes, the question being :

    Is putting a Tac-laser as expensive as the ship as a protection measure something interesting, since e.g. having 6 frigates equipped with this would pay for a dozen????
    Note that a FREMM has half as much weaponry and is as stealth as a $4.2B Zumwalt-class destroyer…

    The wunderwaffen philosophy can be a double-edged sword. TAC lasers will sure become valuable, but not before becoming affordable at the purchase level, even if, for sure, in terms of cost of use, they’re pretty cheap compared to guided projectiles, although…
    Many project have been scrapped : you need serious energy and rapidly, the best way is using chemicals and those able to provide fast reload are… highly toxic… If you need a nuclear reactor and huge accumulators, the price sky-rockets while due to atmospheric diffraction, you may have a hard time to be efficient over 7-8km, so you’re limited to the ManPADS range and w. $500M, you pay for 10,000 ManPADS or Iron-Dome Tamir interceptors…

    So, at the present day, just see these things as experimental.
    BTW, you’d have no problem setting something on fire at 3+ km with a .408 CheyTac or .50BMG riffle : just use incendiary rounds! IMHO, white-phosphorus and magnesium powder are even likely to produce more heat than a laser 😉
    And there are targetting computers making you unlikely to miss your shoot, at least with .408 : .50BMG releases really too much energy into the riffle’s frame and rapidly demolish such devices.

    Nevertheless, again, the problem is not so the feasability, it’s the cost and the cost effectiveness : if you need a 50-200kg battery or chemical cannister for a few laser shots when a 7.7kg semi-auto .408 riffle with computer-targetting system will do the same job at 3+ km instead of 1 km…

    Considering satellites, again, you face the problem of atmospheric diffraction… you may eventually blind their optics if you’re able to keep your beam well focused, and not even for sure. Degrading/destroying these is very unlikely, in fact, to be efficient, you’d need a space-borne laser… Then you violate the outer-space convention and bravo, you’ve just started a new stupid arms race that will fück up your economy just like the USSR demolished its, and BTW, the Stars War bill will be of another level the Cold War arms-race was :
    An X-Wing or Tie-Fighter may not really be in the same price-tag as F-22, J-20, Su-57 or even a B-2 ?
    You’d rather consider 1 year of US military budget for each spacecraft ????
    Note : Lockheed-Martin former CEO said that by following the exponential curve of fighter-jets prices, by 2054AD, it’d reach 1 year of DoD budget per aircraft ????