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South Korea to shoot down DPRK drones with laser weapons

South Korea to shoot down DPRK drones with laser weapons Photo: South Korea launches StarWar laser weapons program (GettyImages)

South Korea will use laser weapons to shoot down North Korean drones this year, becoming the first country in the world to deploy such weapons in its armed forces, according to Reuters.

South Korea has named its laser program "StarWars project."

The South Korean military developed laser weapons designed to destroy drones in collaboration with Hanwha Aerospace. According to a statement from the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), they are efficient and inexpensive, costing $1.45 per shot, but silent and invisible.

"Our country is becoming the first country in the world to deploy and operate laser weapons, and our military's response capabilities on North Korea's drone provocation will be further strengthened," DAPA stated, calling the weapon a game-changer on the future battlefield.

A DAPA spokesperson explained at a briefing that the laser weapon shoots down flying drones by burning their engines or other electronic equipment with beams of light for 10-20 seconds.

In December, five North Korean drones invaded South Korean territory, which is formally still at war with Pyongyang, prompting Seoul to scramble fighter jets and attack helicopters in an attempt to shoot them down. This was the first such intrusion since 2017.

Hostilities in the Korean War of 1950-1953 ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, and the establishment of a demilitarized zone between the two Koreas.

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

According to the American nonprofit think tank RAND Corporation, countries like South Korea, China, and the United Kingdom strive to develop and deploy laser weapons, also known as directed energy weapons.

The think tank stated that there is significant interest in such weapons for countering the proliferation of drones, as well as targeting missiles in flight or satellites in orbit.

In June, South Korea decided to consider the possibility of supplying weapons to Ukraine. This came after North Korea and Russia signed a military pact.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol stated that he would decide on supporting Ukraine with weapons based on how the new treaty between Moscow and Pyongyang plays out.