China Developing Laser To Cut Through Air Of Hypersonic Missiles And Jets
BEJING - The Chinese military are currently working on a vehicle or weapon mounted laser that will be used to cut through the air in front of hypersonic missiles and jets in order to decrease air resistance and make the missiles or jets fly much faster.
The laser will reportedly shoot a laser out in front of the missile or jet, cutting the molecules and causing air plasma to form, also called a 'hot core' that alters the shock wave structure that forms in front of a hypersonic missile or jet and cuts a path for the object that is traveling at hypersonic speeds.
Hypersonic objects generally fly more than 5 times the speed of sound, also known as Mach 5. Mach 5 exceeds a speed of 3,836 miles per hour. Russia, China and the United States are all racing to obtain hypersonic missiles that can outperform all others which would give them unrivaled air superiority.
Shi Jilin and Wang Diankai from China's State Key Laboratory of Laser Propulsion and Application wrote, "Laser plasma drag reduction technology is of great significance for hypersonic aircraft drag reduction and thermal insulation and improves aircraft performance".
As an object approaches the speed of sound, or exceeds it, a shock wave forms in front of the object due to the air resistance working against the traveling object.
Using a laser to disrupt the shock wave would in turn reduce the drag, or air resistance causing it to greatly exceed speeds that would be otherwise achieved, as well as making the object much more stable and easier to maneuver in flight.
The Hong Kong South China Morning Post reported that research claimed the laser reduced air resistance by more than 70 percent.
There are still many obstacles to creating a laser system that would be small enough to fit onto a vehicle or weapon but according to Shi and Wang the Chinese are currently in the design phase for weapons such as these.