What are Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs)? What are the impacts of DEWs? Which are the current and upcoming Directed Energy Weapons projects of India? What are its advantages? Read further to know more.
The development of Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs) is viewed as especially crucial in light of India’s deteriorating security environment, notably its ties with China.
Directed Energy Weapons are new military weapons that have yet to be deployed but will be important in future combat.
The development of directed-energy weapons will be part of a national program with short, medium, and long-term objectives.
Directed Energy Weapons
A DEW is a weapon that uses highly focused energy, such as lasers, microwaves, or particle beams, to destroy, harm, or incapacitate its target. High-energy lasers, electromagnetic rail guns, and high-power microwaves or ultra-wideband weapons are examples of directed energy weapons.
One of the most important characteristics of directed energy weapons is their capacity to counter quickly. Missile maneuvering, precision response, and graded reaction are all examples of graded responses.
A DEW is a long-range weapon that uses highly focused radiation, such as laser, microwave, and particle beam, to harm approaching missiles, personnel-targeting weaponry, vehicles, and optical devices.
Types of DEWs
It is critical to discuss the various types of Directed Energy Weapons. They are as follows:
- LASER Weapon Systems (LaWS): Laser guns, as the name implies, are powered by laser beams launched from a device. Even though its offensive application has yet to be proven, it has been employed in auxiliary applications such as the identification of high-value targets for airstrikes and missile guidance.
- Microwave weapon: A microwave weapon is defined as any weapon with a microwave range between 300 MHz and 300 GHz. These DEW interrupt electronic components and can have varying consequences depending on how much energy is directed.
- Particle-Beam DEW: As a destructive factor, particle-beam DEW employs a directed flow of energized or neutral particles. In the 1970s, the United States started developing beam-based devices of various types alongside other DEW. These DEW are used against ground forces, in aviation, and to target space-based assets.
- Plasma DEW: Plasma DEW emits a plasma beam stream, which is an excited state of matter composed of atomic nuclei and free electrons. This DEW gave long-range LASER accuracy, a fast rate of fire, and “scalable effects,” which meant that the fatality could be altered.
- Sonic’s DEW: Sonic Weapons employ sound to harm, kill, or incapacitate their victims. These Devices operate at frequencies ranging from 1 Hz to 30 Hz.
Impact of Directed Energy Weapons
- The short and long-term medical implications of these weapons are important issues due to a lack of transparent and sufficient testing.
- Testing on volunteer military targets revealed that such weapons can cause blisters and skin burns, as well as chronic agony.
- Electromagnetic waves can cause skin burns and dermal damage because they can penetrate beyond the dermal layer.
- In the year 2010, the prototype of this type of weapon was tested and deployed for the first time in Afghanistan. However, it was later retracted.
Importance for India
- The implementation of these technologies in the aerospace industry has the potential to alter the way wars are fought, allowing India to develop cutting-edge platforms, weapons, sensors, and networks required to fight and win a future war.
- By improving India’s defense capabilities, DEWs and Hypersonic Weapons could serve as a deterrent to hostile nations such as China and Pakistan.
Directed Energy Weapons (DEW) have the advantage of being able to be deployed silently and, when employed correctly, with considerably little accidental harm.
- The logistical issues of obtaining more weapons are eliminated because the extra quantity of energy constitutes all that is required.
Depending on operational circumstances, conventional weapons are less expensive to operate.
- Directed Energy Weapons are extremely precise in their attack on their targets, which are fast-moving objects. When compared to conventional weapons, this makes them a better choice.
- DEWs also have endless magazines, multiple target area coverage, and sound-free operation. They are widely used in vehicles such as ground vehicles, military ships, airplanes, and even crewless vehicles.
- DEWs can also be used as non-lethal millimeter and microwave devices to debilitate soldiers and disable and incapacitate enemy electronic targets.
- DEWs can create a harmless effect on the skin that can occur when exposed to the sun’s UV light within short wavelengths for an extended time.
- They can be used for self-defense dispersal or denial devices that are invisible to human vision.
- DEWs, particularly lasers, have excellent precision, low cost per shot, logistical advantages, and are difficult to detect.
- They are capable of transmitting destructive force at the speed of light (about 300,000 kilometers per second)
- Their beams are not constrained by gravitational pull or atmospheric drag.
- The type and intensity of energy directed to targets can be varied to adjust their effects.
There are still numerous obstacles ahead for the deployment of these weapons on a battlefield, as they demand a considerable amount of energy to operate.
- The research and development of DEWs is a costly endeavor.
- Several DEWs’ practical applicability is uncertain.
- Such weapons are not difficult to counter. Laser beams, for example, can be attenuated by water vapor and dust.
- Most DEWs have a limited range, and their effectiveness diminishes significantly as the distance between the target and the weapon grows.
- DEWs can be costly to develop and build, and their performance in particular scenarios may not make it worth it.
- DEWs can be mitigated by utilizing reflective materials or other countermeasures that minimize their effectiveness.
- When one government develops DEWs, it sparks an arms competition among other countries leading to tensions.
- Blooming: At energy densities of roughly one megajoule per cubic centimeter, laser beams begin to produce plasma breakdown in the atmosphere. This “blooming” action causes the laser to defocus and scatter energy into the surrounding air. If there is fog, smoke, or dust in the air, blooming can be more intense.
India stand on Directed Energy Weapons
- In 2020, India’s Defence Research and Development Agency (DRDO) announced intentions to build Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs) using high-energy lasers and microwaves.
- The ongoing military conflict between India and China in eastern Ladakh has heightened India’s need to create its DEWs.
- But, India’s directed-energy weapon technological breakthroughs are still in their infancy and lag well behind the powerful systems of the United States, Russia, and China.
Current and upcoming DEW projects in India
- In India, the DRDO’s Counter IED 1 KW LASER permits the remote disposal of unexploded bombs, mines, and IEDs. The effective range of the system is 30-250 m.
- Kilo Ampere Linear Ejector (KALI) is a DEW particle accelerator developed by DRDO and Bhabha Atomic Research Center. This DEW will fire intense electron pulses at incoming missiles and aircraft, destroying onboard electronic circuits.
- The Indian Army will get a 100-kilowatt, lightweight LaWS as part of the Directionally Unrestricted Ray-Gun Array (DURGA II). The program is said to be at the concept stage and will be integrated with land, sea, and air-based platforms.
- Furthermore, the DRDO is developing IR dazzlers to engage enemy planes and helicopters at a range of 10 km, as well as 25-kw LaWs to destroy missiles during their terminal phase at a range of 5 to 7 km.
- The DRDO will then test a high-powered truck-mounted laser of 2kw against a target located 1 kilometer away.
- LASTEC has created a 10kw chemical oxygen-iodine laser and is working on a 30-100 kW chemical oxygen-iodine laser for vehicle mounting. LASTEC is also working on an Aditya project to build gas dynamic high-power laser-based DEW.
The idea of Atmanirbharta, or self-reliance in defense, should include creating indigenous designs and development skills through the use of Indian defense. To improve our defense strength, we must expand investment in defense research and development.
Because of its speed-of-light delivery, precision engagement, controlled/scalable effects, logistical benefits of little replenishment, and low cost per shot, DEW provides several capabilities and advantages over traditional weapons.
Given the escalating security dynamics in the Indo-Pacific and beyond, many major nations, including India, are expected to step up their pursuit of these technologies.
DEWs could have a significant preventive capacity, and engaging hostile missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles will be critical for the Indian armed forces. DEW is anticipated to play a significant influence in determining the war’s outcome soon.
Article Written By: Atheena Fathima Riyas