The views of the military-political leadership of China on the role and place of use of directed energy weapons in the system of the armed struggle
Material posted: Publication date: 13-04-2020

The military-political leadership of China along with the development of traditional IWT pays great attention to creation of projects of directed energy weapons (DEW) and development of conceptual provisions entrenching his role in the armed struggle. Chinese military experts believe that the effectiveness of DEW can be significantly larger than that of conventional weapons when performing certain missions. Analysis of Chinese scientific literature has shown that recently there has been a definite leap in the development, production and implementation of DEW in the armed forces of China, due to the increased needs of the PLA.

However still early to speak about the introduction of the formations of the national armed forces are equipped with mainly them. The role, place and range of DEW is determined by the growth of the military potential of China.

In an official document of the PRC "White paper on national defense"[i] published June 26, 2019 marked the basic principles of development of the armed forces of the country, among which great importance is given to the development of "advanced weapons systems", a component of which is DEW. This weapon should contribute to the empowerment of the armed forces of China for the solution of problems in peace and war related to the protection of state sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Chinese military experts under the directed energy beam weapon know weapon that emits energy in a particular direction without the use of additional conductors, to achieve lethal or non-lethal effects at the target[ii]. Currently, the directed energy weapons the Chinese military experts consider laser, high-frequency, acceleration. Currently, China hosts a number of R & d, in which the question of the justification of the role and place of the weapon system in the armed struggle of the armed forces of China[iii].

The CDF of China believes that the main feature of the DEW compared to traditional weapons systems is its ability to hit targets in any environment, also DEW will contribute to the achievement of victory over the enemy with a minimum expenditure of time and resources. Apply DEW assumed independently and in conjunction with traditional means of destruction.

Chinese military experts are currently conducting to develop a new approach to a generalized evaluation of the effectiveness of DEW. In accordance with the existing conventional approach, the defeat of the object means damage at which it ceases to function for some time. Under the damage refers to the impact of weapons on the object, which deprives him of the ability to fully or partially perform tasks[iv].

Analysis of publications of the Chinese military press has shown that the impact of DEW on the object (disabling) based on different physical principles, therefore, for a generalized evaluation of the effectiveness of DEW is supposed to apply the assessment types of damage (strong, average, weak) or repairs (major, medium, current), giving such indicators-defined temporal characteristics. There are also similar indicators of failure of personnel: deadweight loss, serious injury, slight injury. These indicators are directly linked to the absence of personnel in the combat ranks.

Figures are not precise quantitative information during simulation operations, but could be used in predicting its outcome, as they are temporary in nature. This measure gives the probabilistic-temporal information on the impact of a particular type of damage (or repairs of damage) for fighting (type of injury or type of repair object to do with the time of unfitness for action of the object)[v].

According to Chinese military experts, for the destruction of ONE of the objects of the enemy, the time factor plays an important role, since the disabled time state of the object can serve as a measure of the damage done. It is planned that a generalized criterion will be applied in the interests of making the decision to fight the (operation)[vi].

Thus, the analysis of materials on the establishment in China of DEW suggests that the samples of this type of weapons are not accepted for weapons, low military capacity and high vulnerability. However, DEW is considered by Chinese military experts as a necessary technological basis which would later become the basis for the creation of highly effective weapons.

The analysis of possible tasks and ways of use of weapons
directed energy in China

The practical application of DEW in China in the course of warfare is planned in conjunction with traditional weapons. It is planned that the DEW will be applied in the course of conducting offensive and defensive operations. Currently, it is possible to speak about emerging trends in the shift of focus in the armed struggle from a massive fire destruction of manpower, weapons and military equipment to defeat those elements that affect the ability of the opposing parties to organized resistance. Chinese military experts believe that in the future, fighting will begin, usually with a special operation to disrupt the control of the enemy and a series of electronic-fire strikes on the command posts, logistical facilities and communications of the enemy[vii].

During a joint fire destruction assumes the following tasks:

  • the defeat of the critical infrastructure of the enemy;
  • defeat of enemy personnel.

Tasks and methods of use Nevoorujennim forces of China depend on the structure and tasks those units which will be equipped with[viii]. Chinese military experts for DEW to determine the following tasks:

  1. Laser weapons:
  • solution of tasks of air defense, missile defense due to the multifunctional complexes, laser weapons, ground-based;
  • opposition SVCN enemies with lasers, ground-based and airborne;
  • protection of aircraft against missiles of a class "earth-air" and "air-air";
  • non-lethal effects (temporary blindness) manpower.
  1. Microwave weapons:
  • the production of heavy duty active noise control systems of troops and weapons;
  • disabling electricity and electrical VVT systems;
  • remote neutralization of IEDs and detonation of ammunition;
  • non-lethal effects on personnel (painful shock, loss of consciousness);
  • impact on SWCN enemy at the decision of tasks of air defense;
  • the impact on radar and intelligence system of the enemy;
  • disabling aircraft carriers and other US Navy ships in future conflicts (for example, in the settlement of territorial disputes by force in the South China sea).
  1. Accelerator weapons are supposed to be used to provide air defense army and Navy.

According to Chinese military experts, the introduction of DEW in the system of the armed struggle will inevitably entail changes in its character and content. As noted earlier, in local armed conflicts DEW is advisable to use independently, and in major military conflicts, it could serve as a means of influencing the enemy, as when the attack and the defense together with the use of conventional means of destruction.

Chinese military theorists believe that the main form of warfare with the use of DEW in the future will be "electronic warfare", which refers to a form of military operations while simultaneously depriving the enemy's ability to operate in the electromagnetic spectrum. "Electronic warfare" is important to ensure the safety of their own operations and counter operations of the enemy[ix].

The list of possible model targets DEW China

Among the standard objects, the targeted DEW national production, the Chinese military experts consider the following:

  • points of state and military administration;
  • facilities management air and missile defense of the country;
  • the military infrastructure that solves the problem of control of troops and combat equipment, collection and processing of information in the interests of the armed forces;
  • the objects of communication systems, industry, energy;
  • computer and communication systems of state organizations;
  • objects of the mass media (radio, television, etc.).

Thus, the CDF of China suggests that DEW is not just will increase the combat capabilities of the Chinese armed forces, but also will cause changes in the nature of future wars. Part in the wars of the future a large number of different types of precision attack and defensive weapons would complicate this fight and finally bring the fighting to the air and space that will cause a application from China DEW.


Ruslan Bolonchuk


[i] City Baipishu: Zhongguo Junshi Zhanlue / Beijing (White paper on national defence / Beijing), 2019

[ii] (Zhongguo Renmin Jiefangjun Junshi Shuyu Cidian / Beijing (Glossary of military terms of the PLA / Beijing), 2019. Asia-Pacific Defenсe Magazine / YUE-RU Culture Creative International, INC, October, 2014.)

[iii] Asia-Pacific Defenсe Magazine / YUE-RU Culture Creative International, INC, October, 2019.)

[iv] Annual Report to Congress Military and Security Developments Involving the Peoples Republic of China 2019 / Office of the Secretary of Defence, April 2019.

[v] Manachinsky A. Ya., A. V. Dudchak, the Military potential of China. – M.: Publisher Vorobyov A. V., 2015. — 180 p

[vi] Chinas Incomplete Military Transformation Assessing the Weakness of the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) / RAND National Security Research Division, February 2015.

[vii] Kanwa Defense Review / Asian Defence Center, September, 2019.

[viii] The Chinese Military: Overview and Issues for Congress / Congressional Research Service, September 18, 2019.

[ix] The Chinese Peoples Liberation Army in 2025 / Strategic Studies Institute and U.S. Army War College Press, July 2015.

Tags: armed forces , China