‘Peresvet' and ‘Zadira': What we know about Russia's new laser weapons
Russia on Friday claimed to have used powerful laser weapons in its brutal war on Ukraine; Moscow said the 'next generation' weapons had been used to burn up drones launched by Ukrainian forces. The weapons used are believed to include a mobile laser system first announced by Vladimir Putin in 2018 and which, Russia claims, can blind orbiting satellites as well as destroy drones.
News of Russia using lasers has added to fear over the use of advanced weaponry - like the Kinzhal hypersonic missile or even nuclear or chemical weapons. Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky appears unworried (for now) and has taunted Russia, comparing the laser weapons to 'wonder weapons' promised by Nazi Germany to stave off defeat in World War II.
What we know about Russia's latest weapons systems
> In 2018 Putin unveiled an array of new and deadly weapons, including an intercontinental ballistic missile, underwater nuclear drones, a supersonic weapon and a laser system.
> It is unclear exactly how many laser weapons systems Russia commands; the names of at least two have been circulated - Peresvet and Zadira.
> Peresvet - named for a medieval warrior monk called Alexander Peresvet - was the weapon unveiled by Putin in 2018. Little is known about the weapon or its capabilities. Military experts say tit can be used against drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles but it can be thwarted by bad weather.
> On Wednesday Yury Borisov, Russia's deputy prime minister in charge of military development, claimed Peresvet has been deployed and that it can blind satellites up to 1,500 km above Earth.
> Borisov also warned of even more powerful laser weapons systems - ones that can burn up drones and other equipment - and indicated that it was this that had been deployed in Ukraine. "… The first prototypes are already being used there," he said, adding the weapon is called Zadira.
> "If Peresvet blinds, then the new generation of laser weapons lead to the physical destruction of the target - thermal destruction, they burn up," he told Russian state television. Borisov claimed a military test (unverified independently) had led to a drone five km away destroyed in five seconds.
> As with Peresvet, little is known about Zadira. However, in 2017, Russian media said state nuclear corporation Rosatom was helping develop a laser weapon as part of a programme to create weapons-based new physical principles, Reuters reported.
> A retired Australian army major general told The Washington Post weapons like Zadira could, in fact, take down recon drones or Ukrainian artillery, and could also be used to blind Ukrainian soldiers. The latter tactic, however, is banned under international convention, he added.
With input from Reuters
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