The U.S. and other militaries are looking more and more into fielding real laser weapons. In response, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army is placing new emphasis on actual smokescreens to protect forces on the ground and at sea from lasers.
In December 2014, the USS Ponce’s Laser Weapons System became the first operational battlefield laser, capable of engaging light aircraft, drones, and small boats with a 15-50 kilowatt laser beam. The U.S. Military, for one, plans to put weapon lasers on fighters, gunships and surface ships. Most, if not all armed forces worldwide will eventually follow suit.
Lasers do have their drawbacks: the presence of microscopic particles in the air causes lasers to lose their intensity. Lasers naturally lose intensity over distance due to particulates in the air, a problem that grows much worse if a laser tries to penetrate a cloud, rain, fog, or man-made smoke. According to this article, China’s PLA is now working to thwart enemy lasers by creating smoke screens over its own combat forces. These would not only obstruct weaponized lasers, but also laser designators that guide other weapons, such as the Paveway family of laser-guided bombs.
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