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China Developing Laser to Improve Hypersonic Missile, Aircraft Speed

A team of laser experts at Beijing’s Space Engineering University is developing a device to further increase the speed of hypersonic missiles and military aircraft, the South China Morning Post reported on Tuesday.

Scientists are working on a “powerful laser gun” mounted on top of a hypersonic aircraft or missile that targets thin air molecules and reduces air resistance by 70 percent or more.

Manufacturers will utilize the device when engineering weapons or aerial vehicles. However, several technical issues still need to be resolved before the technology can be incorporated.

According to a team of laser experts, the laser “can change the shock wave structure in front of the hypersonic vehicle and then change the speed and pressure distribution to achieve drag reduction.” Drag is the aerodynamic force that opposes an aircraft’s motion in the air.

The group believes that the device they are developing will create a teardrop-shaped plasma cloud that spins in opposite directions and generates forward-moving wind in front of a hypersonic aircraft or weapon.

Problems Encountered

The development of laser technology in China has remained confidential throughout the years. However, Chinese scientists have shared details regarding the unique laser device, since no successful application of the technology has yet been reported.

During research and development, experts at Space Engineering University admitted that they have experienced several problems with the device.

One such problem involves the size of the laser gun. Developers are aware that it has to be small to fit on top of a plane or missile. However, according to the South China Morning Post, a new method to reduce the size and weight of powerful lasers has been developed.

Mounting a laser on aerial vehicles and weapons could also make them heavier, negatively affecting their aerodynamic performance. Nonetheless, experts say the benefits of using the device will outweigh such adverse effects.

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