Israeli soldier flying drone
Only three nations have deployed armed drones in combat, although a number of world powers and non-state actors are known to have unmanned aerial vehicle capabilities. Here, an Israeli soldier launches a drone outside the Gaza Strip July 22, 2014. Reuters/Amir Cohen

Chinese military officials have deployed a highly accurate laser defense system capable of shooting down small drones flying at a low altitude, Chinese state media is reporting. The technology is expected to be utilized to eliminate unidentified drones flying over urban areas that are feared to be controlled by terrorists or conducting unlicensed surveillance activity.

The laser defense system, which according to reports bears some similarity to Israel’s Iron Dome, can destroy drones and other small aircraft flying within a 1.2-mile radius within five seconds of locating the target, according to the official Xinhua news agency. The report quotes a statement from the China Academy of Engineering Physics, CAEP, one of the system’s developers, saying the laser system will “play a key role in ensuring security during major events in urban areas.”

The machine’s development apparently comes amid growing concern regarding the nefarious use of unmanned aerial vehicles. Drone aircraft is inexpensive and easier to use than more established weapons, raising worries that terrorists will use drones against crowds or buildings.

“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 with CAEP told Xinhua. The state news agency has also published photos of small drone wreckage that appears to be on fire, according to Agence France-Presse.

The anti-drone laser system can either be installed or transported in vehicles and had a 100 percent success rate in a trial against 30 drones, Xinhua reported.