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Indian Army to induct laser weapons
Anil Bhat in Jammu | August 17, 2007 12:19 IST
Soldiers engaged in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir [Images] and the north-east will soon have a new weapon to help them take on militants -- portable non-lethal laser dazzlers that can stun and blind their opponents.
"Two versions of the portable non-lethal dazzlers, including a hand-held laser dazzler, are set to be inducted into the Indian armed forces for use in counter-insurgency operations. This will make the 21st century soldier a technology-driven jawan," a top defence source told PTI.
The laser dazzlers, which can be mounted on existing weapons used by the soldiers, were tested in Kashmir in October 2006 and will be inducted into the army possibly by 2008, sources said.
They could be used against militants operating in the hinterland of Kashmir and against those infiltrating into the state across the Line of Control.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation's Laser Science and Technology Centre in Delhi has developed two variants of the PNLD suitable for counter-insurgency operations.
The hand-held and weapon-mounted versions of the PNLD have a maximum range of 50 meters and 500 meters respectively, the sources said.
Both variants are completely non-lethal directed-energy weapons employing intense visible light and produce randomly a flickering green laser output that is sufficient to cause temporary blindness or disorientation.
The dazzlers also have an in-built safety interlock to prevent misuse and the weapons do not cause permanent blindness, the sources said.
The dazzlers also have an integrated low power red laser beam for aiming in twilight and dark conditions.
The weapon-mounted dazzler has an integrate daylight sight too.
After trials of the dazzlers in the north-east and Kashmir, a memorandum of understanding was signed for manufacturing the systems for the army, the sources said.
Under the MoU signed by the Defence Research Development Organisation with SDS Electronics Pvt Ltd of Panchkula, the transfer of technology for the two versions of the PNLD was completed in November 2006, the sources said.
The laser dazzlers use "diode pumped solid state" lasers with a wavelength of 532 nm and weigh 850 g.
Blinding weapons are banned by the 1995 United Nations Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons.
As these dazzlers do not cause permanent blindness, they skirt this regulation, the sources said.
On 18 May 2006, the US military announced it would issue dazzling lasers designed to be attached to M-4 rifles to troops in Iraq.
This weapon is intended to provide a non-lethal way to stop drivers who fail to stop at checkpoints manned by US soldiers.
However, this proposal attracted criticism from human rights groups, who said even these weapons can cause permanent damage.
The US forces also used the Saber 203 dazzlers in Somalia in 1995 during Operation United Shield.
The Chinese armed forces have fitted dazzlers to their Type 98 main battle tank to overwhelm the optical systems of enemy tanks.
Chinese forces also use the ZM-87 portable laser disturber that can blind enemy troops at a range of up to two to three kilometres.