The LW-30 laser defence system, a vehicle-mounted “drone killer” created by China Space Sanjiang Group is the Chinese’s strategy to shoot down US drones in a cost-effective way.
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Drones continue to become more and more vital to American combat, becoming a top priority for funding and the go-to defensive solution, particularly in a battle with China.
According to David Ochmanek of RAND, a former deputy assistant defence secretary for strategy, networked drone swarms were crucial in a recent Air Force simulation of a Taiwan Strait confrontation because they defeated China’s anti-access/area denial measures and guaranteed U.S. victory. According to Bryan Clark of the Hudson Institute, a former special assistant to the commander of naval operations, drones are the only way to make up for a predicted gap in American missile manufacturing. Therefore, it is not surprising that China has started to develop countermeasures.
The LW-30 laser defence system, a vehicle-mounted “drone killer” created by China Space Sanjiang Group, was a highlight of the Zhuhai Airshow in November. The LW-30 is an “optimized” variation of a weapon that made its debut at the 2018 exhibition. It is similar to the “Silent Hunter” system made by China’s Poly Technologies and used by Saudi Arabia in September.
According to China Sanjiang and official media, the LW-30 can shoot down small drones from a distance of several kilometres while swivelling, firing, and moving on to the next target in a matter of seconds. Electricity is much more cost-effective than physical explosives for taking down drones; according to China Sanjiang, a kill costs approximately a dozen Chinese yuan (about $1.75).
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If the allegations are genuine, the Chinese company has solved a long-standing engineering problem: firing a laser at a small moving target for a long enough period of time to cause harm. A representative added that the company is striving to increase the 30-kilowatt beam’s energy so that it can kill targets faster.
The LW-30 and other anti-drone weapons being developed by China are a result of the PLA military doctrine becoming more and more interested in drone and counter-drone warfare. According to the Academy of Military Sciences of the PLA’s The 2020 Science of Military Strategy (pdf below), “intelligent unmanned systems have become an important force on the [21st-century] battlefield,” with nations like the United States, Israel, and Russia deploying them to great advantage. The crucial role that UASs will play in the war between Russia and Ukraine today and between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2020 has lately been discussed in Chinese media. Defenders in both battles have found it difficult to block the use of drones for information, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and combat missions as a reasonably affordable but very powerful substitute for manned aircraft.
According to a June article in PLA Daily, “low, slow, and small” UASs in particular are exceedingly challenging to identify with radar, track with guided munitions, and strike with aerial or anti-air guns. This has put a significant strain on existing air defences. Specifically, networked anti-air guns, electronic interference to obstruct navigation and communications, directed-energy beams (i.e., laser weapons like the LW-30), high-power microwave weapons, and autonomous counter-drone systems like drone swarms are required, according to the article, to maximise the range and speed of early-warning and interception.
The military-industrial complex in China is already putting the list together. The China Aerospace Science and Industry Business (CASIC), the enormous state-owned aerospace corporation that is the parent company of the China Space Sanjiang Group, is in charge of the majority of activities. Numerous other organisations, such as Poly Technologies, China Electronics Technology Corporation (CETC), and China Academy of Engineering Physics, have also played significant roles (CAEP).
The 2022 Zhuhai Airshow included the LW-30 laser in addition to an anti-drone system made by CASIC’s Second Academy which is an excellent example of the “three-dimensional network” design philosophy. The HQ-17AE short-range air-defence system, which can direct four missiles to simultaneously intercept up to four airborne targets at a slant range of 1.5 to 20 kilometres, serves as the system’s main component. Its effectiveness against UASs, fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, cruise missiles, and tactical air-to-ground missiles, according to The Second Academy. The network also includes the man-portable QW-12 anti-air missile system and the unmanned ZR-1500 smart defence system, both of which are capable of carrying machine guns, loitering munitions, micro-missiles, and tiny missiles. Its sensors comprise a pair of DK-1 low-altitude detection radars and an electro-optic radar. The ZK-K20 ground missile anti-air control system, which evaluates the detection data and rapidly deploys the necessary weapons, is the brain of the 3D system. Additionally, the system is equipped with “soft” anti-drone defences like electronic sabotage and deception.
The US last year supplied Switchblades killer drones to Ukraine which are capable of accurately targeting tanks from miles away.
In other words, the race to develop UAS and counter-UAS technology is well underway. The numerous countermeasures on exhibit at the Zhuhai Airshow show that Beijing is also making its own preparations for this crucial aspect of the future of war as drones both undermine conventional defences in wars like Ukraine and appear increasingly frequently in U.S. defence plans.
Read the report given below: