The U.S. Air Force has started prototype work on a defensive tactical laser weapon designed to be carried externally on its combat jets to be used against surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles that are fired against the jet and by 2024 it plans to field production variant that can be adapted on all legacy and present 5th generation fighter jets, as another defense of fighter jets in high-risk environments.

Using a directed-energy laser to down a hostile supersonic missile is by no means easy but DRDO has been known to be working on the development of High Energy Laser that can be used to shot down drones and low flying UAVs, but the tech is still in the developmental stage and might take years before DRDO can develop powerful high energy laser that can be used to drown high-value targets like helicopters and fighter jets with considerable standoff range.

Directed-energy laser for the defensive role is not a new concept and many countries are working on land and sea-based system but the challenges in developing subsystems small and light enough to fit inside a pod that can be carried by a tactical aircraft could require significant breakthroughs for the DRDO to accomplish in development of ground-based, vehicle-mounted laser weapons first.

Laser Weapon System will be part of the 6th generation fighter technology that the world will start seeing when they enter production by 2035 and the ability to shoot down missiles in flight and operate in denied environments, increases the advantage of any legacy and futuristic fighter jets like AMCA that India plans to use in future and DRDO must accelerate research and development in this niche area of weapons development so has to avoid playing catch up when this weapon system start arriving by the turn of this decade.

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