The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is planning to develop directed energy weapons (DEWS) like high-energy lasers and high-powered microwaves. The DEWS will be a part of a national programme, which will have short, medium, and long-term goals, according to a Times of India report.
DRDO will develop different DEWS variants of up to 100-kilowatt power, in collaboration with the domestic industry. These will include ‘chemical oxygen-iodine’ and ‘high-power fibre’ lasers to a secretive ‘Kali’ particle-beam for ‘soft-kills’ against incoming missiles and aircraft, the report added. However, these DEWS are currently nowhere close to being operational.
The DRDO has developed two anti-drone DEW systems, which will now be manufactured in large numbers with the help of the domestic industry. While one is a trailer-mounted DEW, with a 10-kilowatt laser While one is a trailer-mounted DEW, with a 10-kilowatt laser to engage aerial targets at a 2-km range, the other is a compact tripod-mounted one with a 2-kilowatt laser for a 1-km range.
These DEWS have been demonstrated to the armed forces, intelligence agencies and field forces. The two systems can down micro drones by either jamming their command and control links or damaging their electronics through laser-based DEWS.
However, these DEWS are not as powerful as the ones developed in the US, Russia, China, Germany, etc. The Indian defence establishment’s technological roadmap for the next decade says the Army and IAF need at least 20 ‘tactical high-energy laser systems’ that can destroy ‘small aerial targets’, electronic warfare and radars systems at a range of 6-8 km in Phase 1.
In the second phase, the laser systems should have a range of over 20 km to take on soft-skinned vehicles and troops from the ground and aerial platforms.