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South Korea to hit North Korean drones with cheap, invisible 'Star Wars'-style laser weapons

South Korea will deploy laser weapons to shoot down North Korean drones this year, becoming the first country in the world to deploy and use such weapons in its military, the country's arms procurement agency said Thursday.

South Korea has dubbed its laser program the “StarWars Project.”

Anti-drone laser weapons developed by the South Korean military with Hanwha Aerospace are effective and cheap, costing 2,000 won ($1.45) per shot, but silent and invisible, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said in a statement.

“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 strengthened,” DAPA said, calling the weapons a game-changer on the future battlefield.

The laser weapons shoot down flying drones by burning the drones' engines or other electrical equipment with beams of light for 10 to 20 seconds, a DAPA spokesman explained during a briefing.

In December, five North Korean drones entered South Korea, which is technically still at war with Pyongyang, prompting Seoul to send in fighter jets and attack helicopters and attempt to shoot them down, in the first such intrusion since 2017.

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'This is the most tense city': South Koreans living on border with North fear conflict

'This is the most tense city': South Koreans living on border with North fear conflict

The fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, and a demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas.

North and South Korea have both violated the armistice that governs their shared border by flying drones into each other's airspace, the United States has said.

Countries including South Korea, China and the United Kingdom are racing to develop and deploy laser weapons, also known as directed energy weapons, according to the U.S. nonprofit think tank Rand Corporation.

According to the think tank, these weapons are of considerable interest because they help counter the proliferation of unmanned systems, as well as target missiles in flight or satellites in orbit.

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