HMM: Chinese scientists find laser weapons can strip the coating off hypersonic missiles with unexpected ease.

When using laser weapons to defend against hypersonic missiles, cranking up the power does not automatically guarantee better outcomes.

That is what a team of aerospace defence engineers and scientists from Beijing found after conducting wind tunnel tests to examine a scenario in which a missile travelling at Mach 6 is hit by a laser beam.

When the beam’s power density reached 1kW/sq cm, it caused significant peeling of the coating on the missile’s surface.

This special coating is what gives China’s hypersonic weapons their edge. Without it, they would be prone to overheating, destabilising or even falling apart mid-flight.

But here’s the kicker: when the scientists doubled the laser’s power density, the area of peeling actually decreased.

“Under the influence of hypersonic airflow, the coating sustains more damage when hit by a lower-powered laser,” wrote a team led by senior engineer Lin Jian with the Chinese Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics in a peer-reviewed paper published in the Chinese academic journal Physics of Gases in January.

Or maybe that’s just what they want us to believe.