According to a statement issued on Wednesday, the Russian Federation has started using a new class of laser weapons in its military action against Ukraine.
The laser weapons are being used primarily to destroy some of the drones that the Ukrainian government received as part of an aid package from the United States.
In 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled an entire array of new armaments the country had developed, including underwater nuclear drones, an intercontinental ballistic missile, laser weapons, and supersonic weapons.
Despite the announcements, very little is known about the specifics of how the new armament works, according to Reuters.
According to Russian Vice-Prime Minister Yury Borisov, a Russian anti-drone laser weapon called Zadira, which translates as “troublemaker,” has been put into service.
It is similar to Peresvet, the laser system that President Putin introduced in 2018. Peresvet is named after Alexander Peresvet, a Russian Orthodox warrior monk who died in battle in 1380.
The Zadira laser weapon has a somewhat smaller range of only 5 kilometers, or roughly 3 miles, and can be used to take out drones or optical sensors.
“While Peresvet blinds, the new generation of laser weapons causes physical damage to the target, burning it through,” Borisov said.
Peresvet was also designed to blind satellites up to 1500 kilometers, or just over 930 miles, above the Earth’s surface.
The Vice-Prime Minister confirmed the deployment of the new laser weapons had already begun across Ukraine, and some of the prototypes had already been used.
According to Russian military experts, lasers have a distinct advantage over traditional anti-aircraft devices in that they are significantly less expensive per shot.
Since drone technology has expanded since the devices first received widespread military use under U.S. President Barack Obama, anti-drone efforts have also increased.
According to RT, the major drawbacks of laser weapons include the extreme amount of power required to operate one of the devices and the beam’s tendency to be weakened by dust and water vapor in the air.
Borisov also said that Russian multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) received an upgrade that allows precision homing.
“The new systems that are replacing them in calibers of 122 and 300 millimeters, in contrast to the area weapons that were produced, today have the attributes of high-precision weapons,” he said.
Borisov also explained that additional laser-based weapons and electromagnetic weapons are currently in the works and will soon be deployed by the Russian Federation.
The news comes just days after Russia reportedly launched the largest laser-guided rounds ever recorded, 2S4 Tyulpan 240mm mortars.
That mortar style has been around since 1975, when the then-Soviet Union developed it, but the rounds were significantly smaller.
Due to their size, these weapons also have the significant drawback of only being able to fire about once per minute.
As the Russian military action in Ukraine approaches its third month early this week, there continues to be no end in sight.
According to the military advisors with both the U.S. and British governments who spoke to Congress and President Biden last month, the war could continue for 10-20 years.