Oct. 1 (UPI) -- China is stepping up underwater surveillance with the development of a laser that could be used to target submarines.
The South China Morning Post reported Monday the laser satellite China is creating will be able to operate at a depth of less than 500 meters and collect ocean data.
Research began in May 2018. Project Guanlan was launched at the Pilot National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology in Qingdao, Shandong Province.
The laser beam from the satellite, in theory, would hit a submarine, producing pulses that bounce back. The pulses would be picked up by sensor, analyzed to pinpoint the sub's location, speed and three-dimensional shape.
But the lidar technology could face obstacles at sea, including cloud, fog and muddy waters -- not to mention fish.
Experts say the technology is unlikely to detect targets beyond 500 meters.
"Five hundred meters is 'mission impossible'...They won't be able to break through the darkness guarded by Mother Nature -- unless of course they are Tom Cruise, armed with some secret weapons," said a Chinese scientist at the Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The satellite works in coordination with a microwave radar that cannot penetrate water, but measures surface movements in order to instruct the satellite where to target the laser beam.
Xi inspected the 79th Group Army of the People's Liberation Army and met with senior officers of troops stationed in northeast China from Thursday to Friday, the report states.
Relations between China and the United States have deteriorated as the Trump administration imposes new tariffs on Chinese goods.
Last Wednesday, Trump acknowledged ties are declining.
"He may not be a friend of mine anymore. But I think he probably respects me," Trump said of Xi.