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China Claims This 'Laser AK-47' Can Set You On Fire. That's Probably Bullsh*t
China's ZKZM-500 "non-lethal" laser assault rifle, a handheld directed energy weapon billed as a "laser AK-47" that can purportedly ignite the clothing of targets nearly a half-mile away, is ready to be mass produced for state security forces, according to a highly dubious report in the South China Morning Post.
Before I get into why, exactly, this report is highly dubious, here are some deets.
- Researchers responsible for developing the prototype laser weapon at the Chinese Academy of Sciences claim it can “burn through clothes in a split second," leading to “instant carbonization [sic]" of organic tissue.
- "If the fabric is flammable, the whole person will be set on fire," researchers told the South China Morning Post. "The pain will be beyond endurance."
The casing of the ZKZM-500 laser assault rifleCourtesy of South China Morning Post
- The ZKZM-500 has a rechargeable 1000-shot lithium battery and weight profile similar to the AK-47.
- The South China Morning Post reports that the futuristic rifle is likely destined for state police counterterrorism squads.
- But researchers also see potential applications for covert military operations like disabling enemy infrastructure or fuel resources: "Nobody will know where the attack came from ...It will look like an accident."
Look, I'm extremely skeptical of most breathless reports regarding futuristic military tech (with the occasional exception), so there are a few things that are immediately suspect here.
- Range and weight are described, but the actual power system is not. Sure, anyone can claim OPSEC here, but it is hard to believe that the Chinese engineered a powerful-enough directed energy beam that can torch enemies from a half-mile away without being refracted by environmental factors like dust or fog — all with "a rechargeable lithium battery pack similar to those found in smartphones."
- The author of the story refers to this boxy piece of shit as a "15mm caliber weapon." I didn't realize laser weapons had caliber? Oh wait, they don't.
- The South China Morning Post isn't state-run media (it's owned by the Alibaba Group), but the story does come amid reported progress in the Chinese military's electromagnetic railgun program. This one-two punch of groundbreaking directed energy weapon news — an area where the United States has lagged in recent years — suggest the ZKZM-500 update could just be another piece of science fiction propaganda designed to rankle the Pentagon.
Last point: Heat-based weapons are usually bullshit. Consider, for example, the time T&P; Pentagon correspondent Jeff Schogol stood directly in front of a non-lethal Active Denial System meant for crowd control and didn't even break a sweat. Sure, lasers have come a long way since 2007, but this far? I doubt it.
Not everyone is so skeptical, however. Here's some more credulous coverage if that's what you're in the mood for:
A group of vets are raising money for pay for a medal the Iraqi government awarded them, but never delivered
In June 2011 Iraq's defense minister announced that U.S. troops who had deployed to the country would receive the Iraq Commitment Medal in recognition of their service. Eight years later, millions of qualified veterans have yet to receive it.
The reason: The Iraqi government has so far failed to provide the medals to the Department of Defense for approval and distribution.
A small group of veterans hopes to change that.
For a cool $8.5 million, you could be the proud owner of a "fully functioning" F-16 A/B Fighting Falcon fighter jet that a South Florida company acquired from Jordan.
The combat aircraft, which can hit a top speed of 1,357 mph at 40,000 feet, isn't showroom new — it was built in 1980. But it still has a max range of 2,400 miles and an initial climb rate of 62,000 feet per minute and remains militarized, according to The Drive, an automotive website that also covers defense topics, WBDO News 96.5 reported Wednesday.
A doctor who treated accident victims has a radioactive isotope in his body. Russia says it came from his diet
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian authorities said on Friday that a doctor who treated those injured in a mysterious accident this month had the radioactive isotope Caesium-137 in his body, but said it was probably put there by his diet.
The deadly accident at a military site in northern Russia took place on Aug. 8 and caused a brief spurt of radiation. Russian President Vladimir Putin later said it occurred during testing of what he called promising new weapons systems.
Groundwater at the Air Force Academy is contaminated with the same toxic chemicals polluting a southern El Paso County aquifer, expanding a problem that has cost tens of millions of dollars to address in the Pikes Peak region.
Plans are underway to begin testing drinking water wells south of the academy in the Woodmen Valley area after unsafe levels of the chemicals were found at four locations on base, the academy said Thursday.