A laser is a quantum optical generator. Today there are no combat lasers other than the American ALTB (a military laboratory with a prototype of such weapons on board). All the rest is just R & D.
Laser weapons (the so-called "death rays") excites the imagination of both the townsfolk and scientists. Recently, the media have been filled with information about developments in various countries of this type of weapon. There are messages and about carrying out practical experiences with it. What is it all about and what is the actual situation in this area today?
Laser weapons are based on the use of high-energy electromagnetic radiation, which is generated by various kinds of lasers. Its action is determined by a shock-pulse and thermomechanical effect, which can lead to mechanical destruction of the object being hit, as well as temporary blindness of a person. If the work is performed in a pulsed mode, with a high energy density, then the thermal effect is accompanied by a shock.
Laser weapons are divided into blinding, burning, overheating, electro-magnetic-impulse and projection based on the principle of action (they project pictures onto clouds that can demoralize an unprepared enemy).
Currently, chemical lasers, X-rays with nuclear pumping, solid-state and free electrons are considered the most suitable for use.
In the past decade, laser weapons have been improving at an especially fast pace. This is due to the transition from the pumping of its active elements by the lamp method to the energy one by means of laser diodes. The possibility of generating radiation with different wavelengths makes it possible to use it both for power impact on the target, and for information transfer.
Currently, work is underway to create X-ray lasers, the radiation of which is 100-10000 times more than the energy of lasers in the optical range. It is able to penetrate even through large strata of different materials. An X-ray laser hits a target by means of a pulsed shock that causes the target surface material to evaporate.
Laser weapons are characterized by stealth application (no smoke, flame, sound), high accuracy, its action is almost instantaneous, comparable to the speed of light. But its damaging effect depends on the transparency of the atmosphere, therefore, in adverse weather conditions (fog, snowfall, rain, smoke, etc.) it decreases.
What is a Russian laser weapon? Nikolai Makarov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, said that in Russia, as in the world, work is underway on a combat laser. Then he added that "it is premature to talk about its characteristics."
Thus, the promising weapon of Russia is not directly connected with the laser. So say official sources. Although the Russian Federation was the first country to achieve noticeable results in this area. She began to engage in the development of tactical weapons before the States and has prototypes of high-precision chemical combat lasers.