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China Shows Off Silent Hunter 33kW Laser, Drones and Tanks

China Shows Off 33kW Silent Hunter Laser, Drones and Tanks
March 13, 2017 | Source: Popular Science, popsci.com, 27 February 2017, Jeffery Lin and P.W. Singer

At the International Defense Exhibition and Conference, one of the world's largest arms fairs, weapons-makers from around the world show off their latest. At this year's show in Dubai, China flaunted a range of high-tech weaponry spread across 16,000 square feet of floor space. Included: S-20 attack submarines, FC-31 stealth fighter jets, and updates to laser and drone weaponry.

Let's start with lasers. Poly Technologies showed off The Silent Hunter, one of the world's most powerful laser weapons. It claims an output of at least 50-70 kilowatts, which would make it more powerful than the 33-kilowatt laser weapon systems (LaWS) currently deployed on the USS Ponce. The laser is probably based on a smaller anti-drone laser, the Low Altitude Guard. That's enough to knock out automobiles by burning out their engines from over a mile away, as the 30-kilowatt Lockheed Martin ATHENA laser demonstrated in 2015. The Silent Hunter uses fibre optic lasers (fibre optics doped with rare earth minerals), which provide weight savings over chemical lasers through increasing optical gain by kilometers of coiled fibre optics (as opposed to bulky chemical lasers). The Silent Hunter is likely to be scaled up and equipped with radars to complement its optical/infrared tracking system, making it a capable close range defense system against enemy missiles, artillery, drones and aircraft.