Russia is modernizing Soviet era airborne combat laser program to match US and China combat lasers

Russia is also developing combat laser weapons alongside with the US said army general Yury Baluevsky, former Chief of the Russian General Staff.

The US is field testing various combat 50-150 KW combat lasers on ships, trucks and fighter jets.

Last year, China indicated that their combat lasers were shooting down drones. The Chinese laser defense system is able to shoot down various small aircraft within a two-kilometer radius and can do so in five seconds after locating its target. China was also said to be developing railguns and lasers for integration into their naval ships.

Since the time of the Soviet Union, Russia has substantial potential to create combat laser systems, airborne in particular, he says.

The initial program started back in 1970s. The first A-60 test-bed aircraft (modified Ilyushin-76 airlifter) took into the air in 1981 and two years later it was laser-equipped and performing experiments. Another test-bed aircraft joined the program in 1991.

To this day only the latter flying laboratory remains, but the actual work on the airborne combat laser system did not stop over the last two decades. Over the years the A-60 program developed into an operable 1LK222 laser system. During state tests in 2009, the system was tested on the optical systems of a satellite on 1,500km-high orbit. After that information about the project went into shadows.

Russian A60 airborne combat laser test bed

The project’s primary objective, according to the data presented earlier, is making inoperable adversary space vehicles’ sensors and optical electronic systems by directed laser beam impulse, which is the first stage of the project. The second stage is, in case the laser gains sufficient power of the beam, the system will be able to engage ballistic targets

Scientific research, engineering and technical testing of the ambitious project are entrusted to Russia’s leading air and space defense corporation Almaz-Antey and Beriev aviation scientific-technical group.

It must be noted that the Soviet Union used to have a considerable number of combat laser programs, among them space-based high-energy laser battle station Skif-DM (a part of the Buran shuttle and Energy booster rocket program), the A-60 laser aircraft, sea-based combat laser for future advanced battleships, tested on Dikson laboratory ship in the Black Sea and even a laser tank Szhatie (Compression), developed to working machine capable of knocking out enemy’s optical systems on the battlefield.

Reportedly, A-60 platform was once testing the future megawatt-class laser for space battle station Skif-DM.

Two decades after the fall of the USSR, according to available open-source data, only the laser test-bed aircraft A-60 project is alive and kicking.

SOURCES – Sputnick news,,, xinhua