Russia is developing a military airborne laser system based on the IL-76 and designed to counter enemy intelligence means in different environments. The design in principle is not new as it was started in 1980. But a decade later, the funding was ceased because of lack of money, however now it was recommenced and goes as planned. However, some military experts doubt the effectiveness of the installation and consider spending money on it is absolutely unnecessary and ruinous to the Russian budget.
The complex is designed to transmit laser energy to remote objects in order to counter the infrared opto-electronic means of the enemy. The laser is able to paralyze the work of intelligence facilities located in space, air and ground.
Many experts do not rule out that the development of such systems is a matter of prestige for the Russian army. The Americans have already created and are testing the airborne laser, which gave a boost to domestic developments, reports Vesti FM.
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The research began in the late 1980's. The scientists have concluded that if the laser is directed at electronic means of intelligence of the enemy, these means break down. At an altitude, this laser operates several times more efficient. For the first time the flying laboratory rose into the air in 1981, and in April 1984 the aircraft attacked an air target.
The Americans also recognize the successes of Russian laser scientists, and it would be unreasonable to give up further studies, says Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. “The same function is better performed by several types of weapons to make your system more stable. If suddenly the enemy finds some ways to confront one type of weapon, or for some reason it could not be used, it is always better to have a replacement. Therefore, in my opinion, it is silly to give up those weapons and technologies, where even your potential opponent is highly appreciative of what you have,” he said to a radio station.
However, Igor Korotchenko, chief editor of National Defense magazine, does not agree with this opinion, and does not see any sense in this equipment. According to him, it is unlikely to be used in practice. “Even if Russia sets such goal as the creation of a laser airborne, you must understand that we will have to deliver this laser through the airspace of the United States. And there, when ballistic missiles will be thrown at us, we will have to try to destroy them at the start stage. Clearly, all our aircrafts will be shot down.”
And if in practical terms of combat use the laser equipment will be meaningless, there is no need to divert funds from the really important and necessary programs, he says. According to the expert, it must be admitted that the money spent on the creation of the laser will not bring profit and will not exacerbate the country's defense.
“There are two factors in developing such systems,” he said “It is the presence of the engineering technological capability and financial resources. Today, only the U.S. can afford such expensive programs. In Russia, there are no conditions for this,” Therefore, from a practical point of view, the implementation of such a program under budgetary constraints in the defense complex will be absolutely unnecessary and ruinous, explained Korotchenko.
If we talk about priorities, it is better to spend money on improving Russian ballistic missiles, some military experts advise. If the missiles at the stage of launch and entry flight path are able to withstand direct laser radiation, it can be considered the accomplishment of the Russian defense industry.