China showed the weapon of the future: laser rifle ZKZM-500
The fact that portable compact laser weapons, which can set fire to a target from a long distance, has ceased to be the subject of fantastic books and films, becoming a weapon from the real world, was written by journalists from the South China Morning Post. New portable laser weapons can hit targets from a distance. At the same time, the presented laser rifle ZKZM-500 is declared as a non-lethal weapon. It is assumed that the first samples of the new weapons will be available to Chinese law enforcement officers.
The novelty was designed at the Siansky Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XIOPM). Manufacturing prototypes of new weapons involved the company ZKZM Laser Company. This Chinese technology company is part of the XIOPM Institute. At the moment, the company is looking for a partner for the production of a laser rifle ZKZM-500 under license or a partner in the defense industry to organize a full-fledged high-volume production of weapons. The estimated price of new items is quite high - about 100 thousand Yuan (about 15 thousand US dollars per set). If you believe the publications of the Chinese media, the new weapon is ready to be launched into mass production and can be put into service by the anti-terrorist units of the People’s Armed Police of China (part of the country's armed forces performing the role of internal troops). Taking into account the specifics of the novelty, the ZKZM-500 rifle is not intended for export deliveries, it is a product exclusively for the power and military structures of the PRC.
The creators of the laser rifle talk about its non-lethality. In this case, the novelty works in a range that is not available to the human eye. The laser beam can not be seen, which ensures the secrecy of the use of new weapons. The developers note that the laser beam will be able to penetrate through the windows, causing "instant charring" of human skin and tissues. According to one of the developers, in a fraction of a second the laser beam can penetrate through the victim's clothes and, if the latter is capable of ignition, it will simply light up. A researcher who participated in the design and conduct of field tests of a laser rifle, noted that “pain will be unbearable for a person.”
It is quite obvious that this rifle will be able to blind a person, depriving him of his vision and damaging the retina. It should be noted here that the UN prohibits the use of this type of weapon. This is an additional protocol (Protocol IV) to the Convention on the prohibition or restriction of the use of specific types of conventional weapons that may be considered to cause excessive damage or have indiscriminate effects. This protocol prohibits the use of laser weapons that are specifically designed for use in hostilities exclusively or including in order to cause permanent blindness to the organs of vision of a person who does not use optical instruments, that is, unprotected organs of vision. This convention and protocol was signed by more than 100 states, including Russia. In our country, the protocol was ratified in 1999 year.
The media also listed the main technical characteristics of the ZKZM-500 laser rifle: the weight is on the order of 3 kg, the maximum firing range is 800 meters, the caliber of the weapon is 15 mm. True, what exactly is meant by the caliber of a laser rifle is not entirely clear (diameter of the mirror of the optical resonator, diameter of the working body, or something else?). It is known that a laser rifle is driven by a replaceable rechargeable lithium battery, the capacity of which is enough to make more than 1000 shots with a duration of no more than two seconds each. It is possible to install weapons on various vehicles: cars, helicopters, boats.
Work on the creation of a compact laser rifle ZKZM-500 conducted in the mode of high secrecy. For this reason, all the technical details or design features of the novelty are not disclosed. According to Wang Ziming of the Research Center for Laser Physics and Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in the past few years, technical advances have made it possible to create compact and at the same time powerful laser devices. The jump in this area is comparable with the development of modern mobile communication devices. Previously developed similar laser rifles required either prolonged irradiation of the target to be hit, or the production of several shots, while only very large laser installations requiring powerful and bulky power sources could hit the target in one short “shot”. In this regard, the ZKZM-500 rifle, if it really corresponds to the voiced characteristics, can be considered a real breakthrough in the field of creating laser weapons.
At present, it is already known in which cases and situations the Chinese are counting on using their novelty. For example, a laser rifle can be used in anti-terrorist operations, the release of hostages. You can fire at targets located outside the windows, the weapon will allow you to temporarily neutralize opponents in order to allow the assault groups to approach. In addition, the "laser AK-47" can be used when conducting secret military operations that require secrecy. The laser beam has enough power to set fire to the gas tank or fuel storage at a military airfield. Since the laser used is not visible to the human eye, and the weapon itself does not produce any noise, guarding the object will not be able to determine where the attack is coming from, and the sabotage that occurred can be regarded as an accident. At the same time, Chinese scientists fear that their development due to its qualities, in particular its secrecy of use, may become a tasty prey for terrorists and criminal elements of all stripes, which is why weapons are planned to be used inside the PRC, the export of this development is not considered.
In China, the new development is positioned as a non-lethal weapon, that is, such a weapon that is not capable of causing fatal damage when hit by a person. For this reason, claims in the press that the ZKZM-500 laser rifle can literally turn a person into “coal” seem to be untenable. At least, the Chinese themselves are focusing on non-lethal scenarios for the use of new items, for example, when dispersing demonstrations and unauthorized rallies. Among other things, it is noted that with the help of a laser rifle it will be possible to set fire to the banners and flags of the protesters from a sufficiently long distance, and the laser will also be able to light the clothes or hair of the instigators of the unrest. However, such a use of laser weapons is in doubt in the Chinese security forces themselves. One of the officers of the Chinese people's militia noted that with such a use of a rifle, a sufficiently high increase in the occurrence of panic and turning a peaceful protest into large-scale street riots is possible. It is for this reason that it is preferable to use other non-lethal means that are more traditional: rubber bullets, stun guns, irritant gas, etc.
It is worth noting that the ZKZM-500 laser rifle is not the only Chinese development in the field of creating compact laser weapons. Earlier in the press also appeared information that the Chinese company Chengdu Hengan Police Equipment Manufacturing, a major supplier of various equipment for law enforcement agencies of the PRC, announced the release of laser machine guns. Then it was claimed that the novelty could be effectively used at a distance of up to 500 meters and would be able to make several hundred shots on one battery charge.
In China, as in the United States and in Russia, work on various models of laser weapons is being carried out consistently. In 2015, China sent about two billion yuan to create a compact, but powerful laser weapon. This amount was unprecedented for this area of research, the amount of funding caused concern in Washington and Western countries. In recent years, the US military, who are stationed at military sites in strategic areas in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, are increasingly complaining about cases of unknown laser exposure from Chinese ships, sometimes looking like simple fishing boats or military bases.
In June 2018, the Pentagon reported on the fixation of 20 cases when lasers were used against American pilots during Pacific flights. According to representatives of the American Defense Ministry, the last such case was recorded in early June of this year. In the United States, the Chinese military suspected of wanting to blind the US military. In response to this statement, Geng Shuang, representing the Chinese Foreign Ministry, called such statements "fabricated and completely unfounded."
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