Move aside Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, DRDO is trying to develop its own set of Star Wars-like weapons. From laser dazzlers to control rioting crowds to high-powered lasers to destroy incoming missiles, DRDO is working on a slew of directed energy weapons (DEWs), India’s own Star Wars Project called Aditya.
DRDO’s CHESS (Centre for High Energy Systems and Science), Hyderabad is developing Directed Energy Weapon (DEW) systems for use by the Indian Armed Forces (AFs).
Laser Science and Technology Centre (LASTEC) is developing laser source technologies for Directed Energy Weapon (DEW), as also for dazzling and imaging applications.
LASTEC Capability Development
LASTEC has developed core technologies including Gas Dynamic Laser (GDL) and Chemical Oxygen Iodine Lasers (COIL) and demonstrated 100 kW (multi mode) GDL and 20 kW (single mode) COIL sources.
LASTEC’s Aditya Gas Dynamic High Power Laser based Directed Energy System
LASTEC’s Aditya project was an experimental test bed to seed the critical DEW technologies. The Gas Dynamic High Power laser based Directed Energy System can be broadly divided into two major subsystems:
Laser Power Source
Beam Delivery System of Aditya
The Laser beam used in a DEW is subject to attenuation (loss of intensity) due to atmospheric air and jitter due to the turbulence within the atmospheric air. The damage caused by the beam progressively reduces with target distance.
In order to cause the stipulated damages at 0.8 km and 2.5 km distance using a 0.7 m aperture telescope, laser power of the order of 100 kW is required . The beam delivery system has to simultaneously perform several roles. It acquires and tracks the distant static and moving target in real time and points and focuses the laser beam on the target. The adaptive optical system has to compensate for the jitter and wave front distortion of the laser beam from the source.
The technology related to laser source, beam delivery and issues related to system integration on mobile platforms were addressed during the execution of the Aditya project which will provide useful input to future laser weapon programs of DRDO
DEW For Use Against UAVs
One of the DEW weapon systems being developed would target UAV’s.
In July 2015, CHESS invited tenders for 3 radio control (RC) aero models with minimum wingspan of 1600-mm, min. wing area of 800 sq in., and min fuselage length of 1200-mm. The aero-models should be able to fly at altitudes in excess of 400-m.
It’s likely that the procurement is aimed at field testing the IIR sight CHESS has developed for its anti UAV weapon. Typically battlefield mini UAVs fly at around 1000-ft AGL in order to stay clear of small arm fire.
Earlier on March 2, 2015 CHESS invited tenders for Off-axis concave and convex parabolic mirrors.