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South Korea to deploy 'Star Wars' laser weapons to counter North Korean drones

South Korea is set to become the first nation in the world this year to deploy and use laser weapons in its military, specifically designed to counter North Korean drones, the country's arms procurement agency announced Thursday. South Korea has dubbed its laser program the “StarWars Project.”

The South Korean military has developed laser weapons capable of destroying drones in collaboration with Hanwha Aerospace. These weapons are not only effective but also inexpensive, with each shot costing only 2,000 won ($1.45). The weapons operate silently and invisibly, making them a formidable addition to the military's arsenal.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said, “Our country becomes the first country in the world to deploy and use laser weapons, and our military's response capabilities to North Korea's drone provocation will be further enhanced,” emphasizing the importance of such weapons on future battlefields.

Laser weapons work by targeting and burning the engines or other electrical components of flying drones with focused beams of light for 10 to 20 seconds, a DAPA spokesperson explained during a briefing.

In December, five North Korean drones violated South Korean airspace, prompting Seoul to deploy fighter jets and attack helicopters to try to shoot them down. The incident marked the first such intrusion since 2017, highlighting ongoing tensions between the two Koreas, which are technically still at war, with the Korean War having ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty in 1953.

The United States has acknowledged that North and South Korea violated the armistice governing their shared border by sending drones into each other's airspace.

According to the American non-profit think tank RAND Corporation, several countries, including South Korea, China and the United Kingdom, are actively developing and deploying laser weapons, also known as directed energy weapons.

These weapons are attracting considerable interest because of their potential to counter the growing threat of unmanned systems, as well as their ability to target missiles in flight or satellites in orbit.

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