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The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is aiming to revolutionize aerial defence with a game-changing weapon: a lightweight, 100-kilowatt Directed-Energy Weapon (DEW). This powerful laser promises to provide a cost-effective and nearly limitless solution to neutralize low-flying drones, like those deployed by Russian forces in the Ukraine War.

Imagine a laser mounted on a nimble 8×8 truck, accompanying troops on the move. This is the vision for the 100-kW DEW, offering mobile protection against a growing threat: loitering ammunition and armed quadcopters. These small, agile drones can wreak havoc on unsuspecting forces, but a swift zap from the DEW could render them harmless before they get too close.

While the 100-kW DEW targets aerial nuisances, DRDO has its sights set on bigger threats. They’re also working on a 250-300 kW-class DEW capable of safeguarding static sites from a wider range of adversaries. This includes rockets, artillery, mortars (RAM) and even unmanned aerial systems (UAS). More ambitiously, it could potentially take down incoming cruise missiles, offering a layered defence against diverse threats.

Developing such a powerful DEW requires time and technological advancements. While the 100-kW version is expected to see demonstrations soon, the larger system might take a few years to materialize. However, DRDO’s commitment to DEW technology showcases India’s proactive approach to modernizing its defence capabilities.

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