China Claims This 'Laser AK-47' Can Set You On Fire. That's Probably Bullsh*t

Bullet Points
A laser weapon produced by the Chengdu Hengan Police Equipment Manufacturing Company

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:

LolGoogle News

WATCH NEXT:

Courtesy of South China Morning Post
US Marine Corps

Former Marine Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak has issued a statement urging President Donald Trump and members of Congress to oppose pardons for those accused or convicted of war crimes since, he argued, it would "relinquish the United States' moral high ground."

"If President Trump follows through on reports that he will mark Memorial Day by pardoning individuals accused or convicted of war crimes, he will betray these ideals and undermine decades of precedent in American military justice that has contributed to making our country's fighting forces the envy of the world," said Krulak, who served in the Marine Corps for more than three decades before retiring in 1999 as the 31st Commandant.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Associated Materials. Committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace, Associated Materials Incorporated is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn more here.

Associated Materials, a residential and commercial siding and window manufacturer based in Ohio, employs people from a variety of backgrounds. The company gives them an opportunity to work hard and grow within the organization. For Tim Betsinger, Elizabeth Dennis, and Tanika Carroll, all military veterans with wide-ranging experience, Associated Materials has provided a work environment similar to the military and a company culture that feels more like family than work.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump will nominate Barbara Barrett to serve as the next Air Force secretary, the president announced on Tuesday.

"I am pleased to announce my nomination of Barbara Barrett of Arizona, and former Chairman of the Aerospace Corporation, to be the next Secretary of the Air Force," Trump tweeted. "She will be an outstanding Secretary! #FlyFightWin"

Read More Show Less

The Trump administration is trying to assure Congress that it does not want to start a war with Iran, but some lawmakers who fought in Iraq are not so sure.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford both briefed Congress on Tuesday about Iran. Shanahan told reporters earlier on Tuesday that the U.S. military buildup in the region has stopped Iran and its proxies from attacking U.S. forces, but the crisis is not yet over.

"We've put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans," Shanahan said. "That doesn't mean that the threats that we've previously identified have gone away. Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region."

Read More Show Less
U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur/Handout via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump warned on Monday Iran would be met with "great force" if it attacked U.S. interests in the Middle East, and government sources said Washington strongly suspects Shi'ite militias with ties to Tehran were behind a rocket attack in Baghdad's Green Zone.

"I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything," Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Monday evening for an event in Pennsylvania. "If they do something, it will be met with great force but we have no indication that they will."

Read More Show Less