MOSCOW, 21 Dec 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.
On November 1-3, 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin held a series of meetings in Sochi with the leadership of the Ministry of Defence and enterprises of the military-industrial complex. The final meeting on November 3 was devoted to equipping the Armed Forces with systems based on new physical principles.
The head of state noted that “the creation of laser, hypersonic, kinetic and other weapons in our country, which have no analogues in the world, has become a real breakthrough in the field of military technologies, seriously, significantly increased the capabilities of the Armed Forces, for many years, even decades, provided a high level of military security of Russia, and helped to strengthen strategic parity.”
Let’s focus on the “Peresvet” combat laser complex. There is very little open data on this system. Neither its specific purpose nor its characteristics were officially announced. Therefore, we will have to rely on quotes from open speeches and statements from trustworthy sources, as well as expert opinions.
For the first time, the public learned about the Russian combat laser complex on March 1, 2018 during the annual address of Russian President Vladimir Putin with a message to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation: “Significant results have been achieved in the creation of laser weapons. And this is no longer just a theory or projects, and not even just the beginning of production. Since last year, the troops have already received combat laser systems.”
The newspaper of the Russian Ministry of Defence “Krasnaya Zvezda” reported on December 5, 2018 that since December 1, the “Peresvet” laser complexes based on new physical principles have entered experimental combat duty. The publication also clarified that the equipping of the Armed Forces with these weapons began in 2017 as part of the State Armament Program.
The retraining of personnel of units of combat laser complexes took place at the A.F. Mozhaysky Military-Space Academy and at industrial enterprises. The calculations worked out the deployment and preparation for use. The development of these weapons systems and the coordination of combat calculations is already taking place among the troops.
On May 17, 2019, almost six months after the “Peresvet” laser complexes were put on experimental combat duty, at a meeting of the President of Russia with the leadership of the Ministry of Defence and defence industry enterprises, “the first practical results of military operation of the latest technology, including the “Peresvet” laser weapon and the aviation missile complex, the “Kinzhal” hypersonic complex” were considered.
The Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Valery Gerasimov, on December 17, 2019, during a meeting with foreign military attaches accredited in Russia, said that “since the beginning of December, the combat duty of the “Peresvet” laser complexes has been carried out in the positional areas of mobile ground missile systems with the task of covering their manoeuvring actions.”
In his report at the expanded meeting of the Board of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation on December 24 , 2019 , the head of the military department , Sergey Shoigu, said the following: “The deployment of the ‘Peresvet’ laser installations has been completed. Since December 1, they have been on combat duty in the positional areas of the five missile divisions of the Strategic Missile Forces.”
In an interview with the newspaper “Krasnaya Zvezda” on December 16, 2020, the commander of the Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) Sergey Karakayev spoke about the working trip of Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu to the Teykovo missile compound, simultaneously equipped with two types of mobile ground-based missile systems: “Topol-M” and “YARS”. Karakayev noted that the minister “was shown the ground-based laser complex ‘Peresvet’ and its capabilities to cover the SMF on combat patrol routes.”
In early August 2021, Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu visited Novosibirsk Akademgorodok during a working trip, where, communicating with the scientific community, he stated that the “Peresvet” combat laser was developed by the efforts of the Sarov Nuclear Center: “I visit your colleagues in Sarov. Thanks to their efforts and our constant attention, we have delivered such a wonderful weapon as the ‘Peresvet’. And we already have it in service today.”
The Federal State Unitary Enterprise “Russian Federal Nuclear Center – All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics” (RFNC-VNIIEF), which is located in Sarov, also includes the Institute of Laser Physics Research (ILFI). ILFI carries out scientific and technical activities in the field of laser fusion, research of properties of high-temperature dense plasma, development and creation of powerful photodissociation, chemical, gas-dynamic, oxygen-iodine and solid-state laser systems, application of laser technologies in medicine, ecology and other fields of science and technology.
In 2016, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited ILFI: “In the presence of Dmitry Anatolyevich, a successful experiment was conducted with a sample of the product, as part of the fight against unmanned aerial vehicles. As a result – the Prime Minister’s urgent recommendation for the speedy introduction of the technology.”
It should be noted that laser systems are very demanding on power units. To create a directed laser beam with a striking effect, a huge amount of energy is needed. Most experts suggest that the combat laser complex “Peresvet” uses not a compact nuclear reactor that feeds the laser with electricity, but a laser reactor. A laser reactor is a nuclear laser installation that removes energy from the reactor core at the relaxation stage in the form of laser radiation.
According to the authors of the scientific article “Nuclear-pumped lasers – devices with direct conversion of nuclear energy into laser radiation”, “the most interesting variant of a laser reactor is an installation in which, due to the spatial combination of nuclear fuel and the laser medium, a noticeable part of nuclear energy is converted into laser radiation, bypassing the intermediate stage of thermal energy.” This publication also provides simplified schemes of laser reactors.
As of December 2021, “Peresvet” combat laser systems have been on combat duty for more than two years. Military experts outline various options for their combat use. The range of tasks includes the fight against unmanned aerial vehicles, anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence, and anti-space defence in the form of the destruction of spacecraft in near-Earth space in orbits up to 500 kilometres high.
If to talk about the “Peresvet” combat laser as an anti-satellite weapon, then, of course, we are not talking about fire, but about the functional defeat of spacecraft, disabling their equipment and internal filling. “Peresvet” should blind the enemy’s space reconnaissance means in the threatened period before the nuclear conflict, in order to prevent the enemy’s satellites from determining the coordinates of Russian mobile ground-based missile systems with intercontinental ballistic missiles and, accordingly, to prevent the possibility of targeting SMF weapons of destruction.
Based on what Valery Gerasimov, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, said (“the ‘Peresvet’ laser complexes are on combat duty in the positional areas of mobile ground-based missile complexes with the task of covering their manoeuvrable actions“), it is precisely the disabling of enemy reconnaissance space assets at this stage that is the main combat task of the “Peresvet” complexes.
Thus, the combat laser complexes “Peresvet” guarantee Russia the possibility of a retaliatory nuclear strike on the enemy, i.e. contribute to maintaining strategic nuclear parity with the United States.
Aleksey Krivoruchko, Deputy Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation, outlined an interesting prospect for the development of “Peresvet” combat laser complexes. In an interview with the newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda on December 28, 2019, he stated: “Work is underway to develop technologies for creating powerful lasers of various types. We are also working to increase the capacity of the ‘Peresvet’ complex. In the coming years, it is planned to place it on an aircraft carrier.” It is obvious that the deployment of “Peresvet” lasers on an aircraft carrier will increase the range of these weapons, as well as the range of targets.
In the film “Russia. Recent History”, recently aired on the “Rossiya 1” channel, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “We have approximate parity with the United States in terms of carriers and the number of warheads [of nuclear weapons], but still, we are certainly leaders in our promising developments. This is the first point. Well, we are not just upgrading the potential that is traditionally in service, we are introducing new complexes. In this sense, it is safe to say that by this indicator we are number one in the world today.”
This state of affairs gives Russia the opportunity to be more convincing in communicating with “partners” in the West, and makes them more attentive to our concerns and “red lines”. The result of this dialogue should be the stopping of NATO’s advance to the East and the refusal to develop militarily and militarily-technically territories near the Russian borders.