They can burn through targets up to 5 km away, a top official said.
Russia has developed its own anti-drone laser capability and is already using it in Ukraine, Vice Prime Minister Yury Borisov claimed in an interview on Wednesday. He said it has a range of 5 km and was nicknamed Zadira, or troublemaker in Russian. He didn't reveal any other details about the new device.
The revelation came as Borisov was talking about the advanced weapons being developed in Russia. He compared the new weapon to Peresvet, a laser system first unveiled by President Vladimir Putin in 2018, the exact purpose of which was not explained at the time.
The official said the Peresvet was designed to disable optic sensors, including on spy satellites orbiting the earth as high as 1,500 km.
He said that a new generation of laser weapons causes physical damage to the target, burning it through, while Peresvet blinds.
Borisov said they were already being supplied when asked about the timeline for the Russian military to receive such systems. When asked whether the anti-drone laser was deployed in Russia's military campaign in Ukraine, the minister acknowledged that the first samples were used there.
Military experts say that lasers have a number of drawbacks as weapons, including huge power requirements and the deterioration of the beam that dust and water vapor in the air cause.
They have a major advantage in terms of cost-per-shot compared to traditional anti-aircraft missiles. Military planners have to look for ways to counter this threat without depleting their war chests because of the advancement in drone technology, which has made the deployment of air assets more financially accessible.
Naval lasers were successfully tested against boats and drones this year, with the defeat of an aerial practice target by the Layered Laser Defense LLD in April, described as historic by the authorities.