China successfully develops drone defense system: Xinhua

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has successfully tested a self-developed laser defense system against small-scale low-altitude drones, state media said on Sunday. The laser defense system is capable of shooting down small aircraft within a two-km (1.2-mile) radius and can do so within five seconds of locating its target, the official Xinhua news agency said, quoting a statement by the China Academy of Engineering Physics. The academy is one of the drone defense system's co-developers, Xinhua said. The reported development comes as concerns about the country's military preparedness are being raised in state media. A front page article in China's official military newspaper last month said that weaknesses in military training posed a threat to the country's ability to fight and win a war. The paper - the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Daily - said in the same report that China's military authorities had sent a document out to units detailing 40 weaknesses in current training methods. President Xi Jinping has been pushing to strengthen the fighting ability of China's 2.3 million-strong armed forces as they project power across disputed waters in the East and South China Seas. China has developed stealth jets and has built one aircraft carrier. The country's armed forces, the world's largest, came under criticism earlier this year from serving and retired Chinese officers and state media, who questioned whether they were too corrupt to win a war. According to Sunday’s Xinhua story, the drone defense system is designed to destroy small-scale drones flying within an altitude of 500 meters and at speeds below 50 meters per second. "Intercepting such drones is usually the work of snipers and helicopters, but their success rate is not as high and mistakes with accuracy can result in unwanted damage," Yi Jinsong, a manager involved with the project, was quoted as saying. (Reporting By Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Abigail Fielding-Smith)