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Directed Energy Weapons and Hypersonic Weapons

  • 25 Mar 2023
  • 5 min read

For Prelims: Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs) and Hypersonic Weapons features

For Mains: Significance of Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs) and Hypersonic Weapons

Why in News?

Recently, India’s Air Chief Marshal highlighted the need to push the development of Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs) and Hypersonic Weapons and integrate them into its airborne platforms to get the desired range and accuracy.

What are DEWs and Hypersonic Weapons?

  • About:
    • In layman's parlance, a directed-energy weapon damages or destroys its target using focused energy by means of lasers, microwaves or particle beams.
      • Example – Microwave weapons, Lasers weapons, drone defence systems etc.
    • A hypersonic weapon is one that can hit its target five to ten times (Mach 5 to Mach 10) the speed of sound.
  • Advantages of DEWs over Conventional Ammunitions:
    • DEWs, particularly lasers, have high precision, low cost per shot, logistical benefits and low detectability.
    • They transmit lethal force at the speed of light (about 300,000 kilometers per second)
    • Their beams are not affected by the constraining effects of gravity or atmospheric drag.
    • Their effects can be tailored by varying the type and intensity of energy delivered against targets.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Limited Range: Most DEWs have limited range, and their effectiveness decreases rapidly as the distance between the target and the weapon increases
    • High Cost: DEWs and hypersonic weapons can be expensive to develop and manufacture, and the cost may not be justified by their effectiveness in some situations.
    • Countermeasures: DEWs can be countered by using reflective materials or other countermeasures, which can reduce their effectiveness.
    • Arms Race: The development of hypersonic weapons and DEWs by one country leads to an arms race, as other countries seek to develop their own hypersonic weapons in response. This can lead to increased tensions and instability.
  • Significance for India:
    • The application of these technologies in the aerospace industry can transform the way wars will be fought enabling India to produce cutting edge platforms, weapons, sensors, and networks essential to fight and win a future war.
    • DEWs and Hypersonic Weapons could act as a deterrent against hostile nations such as China, Pakistan by increasing India’s defence capabilities.
  • Other Countries with DEWs:

What are the India’s DEWs and Hypersonic Technology Projects?

  • 1KW laser Weapon: DRDO has tested a 1KW laser weapon which hit a target 250m away.
  • Directionally Unrestricted Ray-Gun Array (DURGA) II: DRDO has initiated a project DURGA II, which is a 100-kilowatt lightweight DEW.
  • Hypersonic Technology Development: Hypersonic technology in India has been developed and tested by both DRDO and ISRO.

Way Forward

  • The concept of Atmanirbharta or self-reliance in defence should encompass evolving home-grown designs and development capabilities by utilizing the Indian defence.
  • There is a need to increase investment in defence research and development to boost our defence capability.

Source: IE

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