Laser Weapon System (LaWS) Operational demonstration aboard USS Ponce

A screen grab from footage aired by CCTV showing what appears to be a prototype laser weapon being tested by the Chinese navy. Source: Via CCTV

Chinese media have reported that a prototype laser weapon is being tested by the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

An article published on 5 April on the Sina news website contains several screen grabs taken from footage broadcast by China Central Television (CCTV) showing a trainable optical device mounted on a mobile chassis with a large main lens.

This is surmounted by two smaller devices, possibly optical and radio frequency ranging and tracking sensors. One of the images also shows an auxiliary trailer that could be used as a mobile generator, as well as Chinese troops nearby in naval uniform.

No definitive information relating to the capability of the system has been disclosed but the Sina report suggests that a truck-mounted variant could form part of a coastal defence battery, and that a shipborne device could be an alternative to the HHQ-10 short-range surface-to-air missile system, implying that the laser-based system may have a range of about 5 km.

China has produced several examples of road-mobile laser weapons. For instance, in late 2017 China released information about a laser weapon system that had successfully destroyed an unmanned aerial vehicle at a range of about 300 m.