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Russian Navy has new laser-like weapon that causes hallucinations

The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (ASB(I) 15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. (John F. Williams/U.S. Navy)
February 06, 2019

Russia has developed a new laser-like weapon that could be debilitating to its opponent.

The Russian Navy’s new weapon, 5P-42 Filin, is a dazzler-type weapon that projects a strobe-like beam to disrupt opponents’ eyesight, interfering with their vision and aim, The Hill reported, citing Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

Filin, a “visual-optical interference station,” also sparks hallucinations, dizziness, nausea and disorientation in its target, according to data from volunteers during testing. The weapon’s projection appeared as a moving ball of light, volunteers said.

“It is designed to suppress at night and at dusk visual-optical and optical-electronic channels of observation and aiming of small arms, as well as melee weapons used against surface ships and naval boats. The station’s action is based on the modulation of the brightness of the light emitted by the low-frequency oscillations of the brightness due to the excitation of the optic nerves causing temporary reversible visual impairments,” RIA Novosti reported.

The weapon has been installed on two Russian warships – the Admiral Gorshkov and Admiral Kasatonov. Both ships are assigned to patrol missions in the Arctic Ocean.

Russia’s state electronic development company, Ruselectornics, is behind the Filin’s development. Additional weapons are in production and will be installed on additional warships.

The Filin isn’t the only new weapon on Russia’s agenda in the wake of the United States’ withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

This week, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the country will pursue groundbreaking hypersonic and cruise missiles now that the end of the INF Treaty is on the horizon.

“In 2019-2020, we should develop a ground-based version of sea-based Kalibr complexes with a long-range cruise missile, which has proved to be effective in Syria. During the same period, we should create a ground-based missile complex with a long-range hypersonic missile,” Shoigu said, according to CNBC News.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Friday that the U.S. was withdrawing from the INF Treaty as a result of Russia’s continued violations of the treaty and failure to return to compliance, despite warnings given.

The treaty originally required both countries to disassemble more than 2,500 miles. However, Russia has continued to develop and test intermediate cruise missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (or about 300 to 3,400 miles), which is specifically prohibited by the treaty.

Now that the withdrawal has been announced, the treaty mandates an additional six-month window to complete the withdrawal.

Russia’s missile activities have been evident for quite some time thanks to missile announcements made from Russian President Vladimir Putin himself.

In March 2018, Putin introduced Sarmat, an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and considered invincible.

“I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years and introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development, including the military field: Everything you wanted to stop with your policies has now happened. You have failed to contain Russia,” Putin said at the time.