China has claimed to build a laser rifle which can “carbonize” the human flesh at a range of 800 meters and weighs only 3 kgs. The Chinese researchers said that the ZKZM-500 laser assault rifle is a completely portable ‘non-lethal’ weapon which can burn the skin, hair, and signs. It can also penetrate and set fire to fuel tanks. The handheld laser weapon is a staple of science fiction.
The ZKZM-500 is a 15mm caliber weapon about the size of an AK-47 assault rifle. The ZKZM-500 is designed as an anti-personnel weapon. The American counterpart of the gun gives a sensation of heat without causing any permanent damage. The Chinese laser rifle can burn through clothes and can also set an entire human being on fire even if it was aimed through a closed window. The gun is powered by lithium-ion batteries which allow it to discharge 1000 two second shots on a single charge and the company also plans to mass produce the rifles at a cost of 100,000 yuan per unit. There is also a concern that the weapon can fall into wrong hands, therefore, it will be tightly regulated. The first ones will be sold to the anti-terrorist squad of Chinese Armed Police.
While the weapon is very fascinating there are also some drawbacks to it. The most major drawback is power. Laser power weapons are notoriously inefficient and need full-blown electrical generators to work. A laser-like ZKZM-500 to run on lithium-ion batteries, the power units will weigh as much as a car. Even if the laser is made compact, it will need energy density so large that it will seem like carrying a large bottle of nitroglycerin with you. The ‘less lethal’ rating is given to the weapon since at ‘worst’ the rifle will set fire to a person. The developers say that the ZKZM-500 will be used for anti-terrorism and crowd control.
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