Near the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union began experimenting with the idea of fielding a laser-equipped tank that could blind the targeting systems of inbound ballistic missiles or vehicles. Ultimately, two prototypes of the laser-armed 1К17 Сжатие, translated to “Compression,” were built, though they weren’t complete until the Soviet Union fell and was replaced by the new government of the Russian Federation.
Today, the United States is among a number of nations working to develop and field advanced directed energy weapons, or lasers, for a number of military applications. The U.S. Air Force recently announced its intentions to begin fielding lasers on their fighter platforms as soon as 2025, and the U.S. Navy began testing its latest laser, the MK 2 MOD 0, aboard the USS Portland in May of this year. But decades before these programs came to light, the Soviet Union was already exploring the idea of using lasers as a means of missile defense.