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Difference between Laser Weapon and Microwave Weapon | Laser Weapon vs Microwave Weapon

This page compares Laser Weapon vs Microwave Weapon and provides difference between Laser Weapon and Microwave weapon. The other useful links to difference between various terms are provided here.

Both Laser weapon and Microwave weapon are used as "Directed Energy Weapons". Both of these system based weapons are usually Airborne i.e. located in the aircraft or drone. They emit energy to destroy, damage or mal-function the target electronic systems of the enemy.

Lasers usually falls under 1mm to 750nm wavelength known as Infrared and 750nm to 400nm wavelength known as visible light. Microwaves uses mm to cm of wavelength which is about 1000 times longer compare to laser waves.

Tabular difference between Laser Weapon and Microwave Weapon systems

Following table mentions major difference between laser weapon and microwave weapon based systems.

Specifications or features Laser Weapon Microwave Weapon
Function It delivers energy directly to the target using laser. It delivers energy directly to the target using electromagnetic waves of high power. Hence they are also referred as HPM weapon or high power microwave weapon.
Atmospheric effect The performance of laser weapon is affected by atmospheric phenomena such as clouds, rain, vapour etc. The performance of microwave weapon is not affected by atmospheric phenomena as microwaves can penetrate through cloud, dust and water vapour particles. Hence they can be used in any atmospheric conditions.
Range They have higher range to hit the target. They have shorter range compare to high energy laser weapons.
Operation They are considered to be point weapons. They are considered to be area weapons which destroys wide area of the target.
Wavelength or frequency Solid state laser operates at 1064.5 nm wavelength and can either be pulsed wave type or CW type. Advanced tactical laser operates at 1.315 µm Operates in500MHz to 3GHz frequency rangewhich ranges in mm to cm. Wavelength of microwave weapon is about thousand times larger than laser weapon.
Power It uses about 50 KW to Megawatts of power. It uses power in the range from 100 MW to 100 GW.

Refer Article on high power microwave Weapon which describes basics of HPM weapon system with block diagram. It also mentions types of microwave weapons in addition to advantages (merits) and disadvantages (demerits) of microwave weapon system.

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