HomeAatmanirbhar BharatDURGA 2: India's Very Own Laser Weapon Being Developed By DRDO Could...

DURGA 2: India’s Very Own Laser Weapon Being Developed By DRDO Could Be Tested Soon

Source : ABP News

DURGA 2: India's Very Own Laser Weapon Being Developed By DRDO Could Be Tested Soon
DURGA 2: India's Very Own Laser Weapon Being Developed By DRDO Could Be Tested Soon 14

Military powers who have deployed or were left behind in developing or acquiring expensive anti-missile or anti-drone systems are now engaged in a serious race to develop and deploy the next generation of laser weapon systems that can neutralise any missile or fighter aircraft or drone high in the sky or even within enemy airspace. From big powers like the United States or China to countries like Turkey, Iran or for even Pakistan, all are reported to have advanced or initiated work on the highly challenging laser weapon systems to make their skies unimpregnable. The laser laboratory of India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is also reported to have been working on such highly complex laser weapon systems for the last two decades, and is now reported to have achieved a fairly advanced stage of testing a real prototype of a laser weapon that can even destroy a ballistic missile. 

Though the Indian defence establishment has maintained strict silence over the programme, its progress was first discussed in the US strategic circles. Later, several credible reports emerged that the DRDO Laser Laboratory was likely to test a prototype in 2023. Though the year passed without any murmur from the defence establishment, scientists are reported to be working hard to test the prototype of the laser weapon system in the first half of this year. For the layman, a directed energy weapon damages or destroys its target using focussed energy by means of laser, microwave or particle beams. Such a weapon system can protect vital defence infrastructure from missile or air attack.

DURGA-2: Laser Weapons That Can Be A Game-Changer 

Directed energy weapons, also called laser weapons, if developed and deployed operationally, can neutralise any drone or ballistic missile attacks from the skies or even at the originating location as it can travel at the speed of the light. It can deflect the path of the missiles and can even destroy a fighter aircraft.

The present generation of anti-aircraft or anti-missile systems are not considered fool-proof but the laser weapon promises to have 100 percent kill probability. In fact, the laser weapon will prove to be a game-changer in military realm, and hence the DRDO is devoting its energy on this dream project. Some details of the laser weapon, dubbed DURGA-2 ( Directionally Unrestricted Ray Gun Array), was first revealed in the US Defence News magazine almost three years ago. Indian strategic circles are abuzz with the possibility of India deploying the laser system, which can destroy any ballistic or cruise missile launched by China or Pakistan

The Chinese or Pakistani ballistic missiles pose greatest threat to Indian security. Though India has contracted with Russia for five S-400 anti-missile systems costing USD 5.25 billion to prevent incoming missiles from falling over Indian territory, it cannot guarantee the destruction of each and every missile directed at Indian metros. The laser weapon can also annihilate the enemy civilian or military radar and electronic warfare systems, which will render all enemy missile establishments useless.

DRDO to unveil Durga-II Directed Energy Weapon (DEW) this year: DURGA 2: India’s Very Own Laser Weapon Being Developed By DRDO Could Be Tested Soon

The US defence media reported in 2021, the Laser Science and Technology Centre (LSTC) at New Delhi is working on this next generation laser defensive and offensive systems. This laboratory is developing and improving various laser generation techniques using solid state and fibre and chemical lasers for defensive fibre and chemical lasers for defensive and offensive use. The laser laboratory is the lead centre for this highly classified DURGA-2 project, which has been allotted $100 million by the government. The DURGA-2 Is planned to be integrated with land, sea and air based platforms.

The LSTC is reported to have succeeded in developing a 25KW laser that can target a ballistic missile during its terminal phase at a maximum distance of 5 km. The laser experts are working to enhance this range to 100 km or beyond. Earlier, in 2017, the DRDO had tested a 1 kw laser system mounted on a truck at a DRDO facility in Chitradurga, which was able to hit a target at a distance of 250 metre. The biggest challenge is to provide adequate power to the system for the high power laser weapons.

Why Laser Weapons Are Being Called The Future Of Warfare 

The US military has already deployed such directed energy weapons, in the role of “drone defence system”, which uses laser beams to knock out parts of the drones that are becoming an integral part of the military arsenal of the big and small powers. The 300 kw Laser developed by Lockheed Martin is already in use and is being upscaled to 500 kw by leveraging some of the optical and technical breakthroughs made during the development of combat laser systems for the US military. According to senior Lockheed Martin official Rick Cordaro, the company is investing in production infrastructure in anticipation of huge demand from the US military. The Lockheed Martin made laser weapon systems would prove to be cheaper because of low cost per engagement, high speed of light delivery and high precision response and reduced logistics requirements. 

Because of these advantages, the US defence giant is engaged in bigger laser systems and more powerful while remaining relatively portable and cost effective. According to Lockheed, the cost of deploying a conventional missile system for air threat defence would be nearly same the cost of deploying a combat laser system, but unlike the conventional missile system the cost of operating the laser would be much less, i.e., a few dollars per shot whereas a missile launch would cost around $50,000 to $150,000. Israel is already operating the new Iron Beam laser interception system, which is the world’s first energy based weapon system that uses a laser to shoot down incoming UAVs, rockets and mortars at a cost of merely $3.5 each.

Laser weapons are going to be the future of anti-missiles, anti-drones or anti-aircraft warfare, and hence there is a worldwide interest in acquiring such system. Indian strategic circle is eagerly waiting for this game-changer indigenous laser weapon that can successfully tackle any aerial threat. The laser weapon have the potentials of becoming an effective and cheaper alternative to any ballistic missile defence system like Russia’ S-400 or the US’ Patriot anti-missile systems.

The author is a senior journalist and strategic affairs analyst.

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