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Where are the PLA’s other laser dazzling facilities?

  • Published
  • China Aerospace Studies Institute

In December 2022, U.S. researchers again updated their analysis of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA’s) laser research, development, and testing facilities in the desert of China’s Xinjiang province.  This time, they described how their review of commercial satellite imagery had led them to hypothesize that “China is utilizing a vehicle-mounted laser system, or seeks to develop one, for more destructive types of laser [counterspace] operations.”[i]   

This article seeks to flesh out and redirect that hypothesis with three arguments discussed in more detail below.  First, PLA media and academy theorists more often discuss the benefits of laser dazzling and other reversible counterspace laser effects.  Second, the PLA highly likely already has a mobile laser dazzling capability, and it would be extremely useful to catch those with satellite imagery, rather than more imagery of the Bohu laser facility in Xinjiang.  Third, there are diminishing payoffs from focusing on Bohu for understanding China’s now 15 years of experience with counterspace lasers; in particular other PLA services have used those facilities and have developed truck mounted laser weapons, but not for space or counterspace applications.[ii]  Lastly, the report includes imagery to facilitate follow up reasearch.

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[i] Arms Control Wonk, “The Bohu Laser Facilty Part 1 and Part 2,” 12/2022, https://www.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/1216848/the-bohu-laser-facility-part-1-history-and-organisation/

[ii] Army Recognition, “China displays new version of its LW-30 mobile laser weapon at AirShow China 2022,” 11/2022, https://www.armyrecognition.com/weapons_defence_industry_military_technology_uk/china_displays_new_version_of_its_lw-30_mobile_laser_weapon_at_airshow_china_2022.html