At the Africa Aerospace and Defense 2016 tradeshow in South Africa, Poly Technologies revealed new details about its lethal laser gun, the Low Altitude Guard II.
Built as a joint venture by the Chinese Academy of Physics Engineering and Jiuyuan Hi Tech Equipment Corporation, and marketed by Poly Technologies, the Low Altitude Guard I first debuted in 2014. LAG I was marketed as a law enforcement/counter terrorism tool, using its electroptical sensors to target errant and rogue UAVs. By knocking small targets down using lasers, the changes of collateral damage were reduced compared to explosive anti-aircraft artillery or missiles.
Compared with its predecessor, LAG II is more apparently militarized. Its range is doubled to 4 km and has a 300 percent increase in maximum power output to 30 kilowatts. That’s comparable to the Laser Weapons System (LAWS) installed on the USS Ponce, which has a range of 15-50 kilowatts for attacking UAVs, small boats, and helicopters.
Poly Technology representatives told media that the LAG II can be either mounted on a medium sized truck, or a 6X6 armored personnel carrier, to provide frontline protection against small drones. (The display in South Africa follows earlier state television broadcasts in November 2015 that showed that the PLA was testing the LAG II to defend against small UAVs and other aircraft). The LAG II’s eletro-optical guidance system is suitable for knocking out drones (and possibly larger manned, slow aircraft), but would require more sophisticated fire control sensors to target fast-moving objects like incoming artillery shells, cruise missiles, and rockets.
The push to market the LAG II shows an increasing trend by Chinese arms makers to export cutting edge technologies, which have only just entered PLA service or are still even on the test range. Its display also points to the trend of increasingly compact and powerful directed energy weapons that, just as has happened for US and NATO militaries, will equip Chinese forces in the not too distant future.
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