China Develops Star Wars-style 'Laser Ak-47' That Can Set Fire to Targets and Pass Through Windows

Customers of Xuelang Outdoor Sports Club use laser guns during a "Counter-Strike" game which simulates warfare on movie sets, not currently being used for filming, at a production base in Beijing July 4, 2008. China has developed a new laser weapon that can set fire to people from more than half a mile away. Reuters

Chinese scientists have reportedly developed a new laser weapon with capabilities similar to the blasters used in Star Wars and other science fiction films.

A document released by the Public Service Platform for National Civil-Military Integration classified the ZKZM-500 laser assault rifle, otherwise known as the 'laser AK-47,' as a "non-lethal weapon." This means they are not specifically designed to shot and kill a living target, reported the South China Morning Post.

However, it can instantly "carbonize" human skin from over half a mile away and shoots out energy that passes through windows. A laser weapons scientist, who was involved in the ZKZM-500's prototype development and field testing at the Xian Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shaanxi province, told the South China Morning Post that the weapon is capable of burning "through clothes in a split second." "If the fabric is flammable, the whole person will be set on fire. The pain will be beyond endurance," the source said.

The laser weapon is known as the 'laser AK-47' because it weighs around 6.6 pounds and has a 15mm caliber, the same metrics as the assault rifle. It can reportedly be fixed to transportation vehicles on land, air or sea.

Another scientist and researcher also revealed that the laser cannot be seen by the naked eye and omits zero sound. "Nobody will know where the attack came from. It will look like an accident," the source said.

The sources wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the project.

The prototype was reportedly made by ZKZM Laser, an arm of the Xian Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics. Last month, the government released a document on the Public Service Platform for National Civil-Military Integration website that confirmed the laser's existence and describes some of its basic functionalities.

In the document, authorities justify its classification as "non-lethal" by offering an example that it can be used to set fire to posters at "illegal protests," reported South China Morning Post.

Last month, the U.S. lodged a formal complaint after a laser fired from a Chinese military base in Djibouti caused two pilots of suffer minor eye injuries, reported the Wall Street Journal. According to sources from the U.S. military, around 20 attacks on American aircrew have been documented since September 2017. All the incidents took place around the East China Sea.