Chinese scientists have reportedly achieved unexpected success in their development of a high-power microwave (HPM) weapon. This promising form of directed energy weapon combines “soft” and “hard kill” capabilities through the disruption or even destruction of enemy electronics systems. Such a powerful “new concept weapon” possesses unique advantages, including its potential speed, range, accuracy, flexibility, and reusability.
The PLA’s future HPM weapons could have multiple defensive and offensive functions that would enhance its combat capabilities. In the near term, the PLA’s probable employment of this HPM could be as a ship-borne anti-missile system or to reinforce China’s air defense systems. Potentially, such a weapon system would undermine the efficacy of even the most advanced U.S. missiles, such as the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) currently under development. Its likely applications could also include its use as an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon or incorporation with missiles in order to overcome enemy air defenses. Once operationalized, this new weapon could thus contribute to China’s anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities.