Cold War Weapons | Lasers: Episode 2

Laser weapons emerged during the Cold War, but a lot of those scientific innovations are still classified as top secret. In the 1980s politicians hoped that lasers would make nuclear weapons obsolete. And their hopes were reasonable. Back then interceptor missiles moved at supersonic speeds, while the laser could move at the speed of light.

In 1983, US President Ronald Reagan announced the launch of one of the most ambitious military projects in America’s history – the Strategic Defense Initiative, soon to be nicknamed Star Wars. Americans expected to create a Death Star, the laser of which would blow up the USSR before they could launch a retaliatory strike.

The SDI program obviously posed an existential threat to the USSR, and Soviet scientists were quick to come up with a response. A unique heliocomplex dubbed ‘The Sun’ was created. A gigantic mirror with a total area of 1,840 square meters allowed it to collect solar radiation and focus it into a small spot the size of a coin. Such energy is powerful enough to cut off the wings of an airplane.

In this episode of Cold War Weapons you will see how superpower lasers work under various weather conditions, why airborne laser weapons were created and whether laser tanks can penetrate an opposing one in an instant.