According to a report in the South China Morning Post, researchers in China developed a laser gun capable of igniting a target on fire from a half mile.
Researchers in China developed a laser gun known as ZKZM-500, a boxy-shaped assault rifle that resembles a large toy gun. With a weight of 6.6 lbs, the 15 mm caliber gun can fire over 1,000 laser shots. The gun produces a silent, invisible energy beam that lasts up to 2 seconds. The laser gun is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery. The laser shots can cause instant carbonization of human skin and tissues and thus is classified as a nonlethal weapon. The laser causes the skin to burn and reduce to carbon similar to the outside of a charred marshmallow. The laser can penetrate through windows and burn through gas tanks. Moreover, the laser gun can ignite flammable materials. The gun does not generate any sound when laser shots are fired.
However, the gun is inefficient in causing fatal harm as it takes several zaps to burn a hole through a body. The Chinese government classified the laser weapon as nonlethal. The gun could be used for setting fire to illegal banners at a protest or setting fire to the hair or clothing of a protester instead of causing fatal harm. The creators of the laser gun stated that although the weapon is ready for mass production, they have not found a licensed weapons-production company ready to take the guns on at $15,000 a unit price.
Writing for the Center for a New American Security, Jason Ellis, an international studies scholar, the U.S. and most other large militaries are focused on developing laser weapons for decades. Vast sums of money have been invested by the U.S. military in researching development of High Energy Lasers (HEL) and various other Directed Energy (DE) weapons. The development of ZKZM-500 in China is still considered a far-fetched achievement for many experts in the field.