China is developing a laser-powered rifle that can set people on fire from half a mile away

China is developing a laser assault rifle that can reduce people to ash from half a mile away, according to reports.

The ZKZM-500 laser assault rifle can reportedly produce an energy beam that can pass through windows and cause the “instant carbonisation” of human skin and tissue.

Said to be the same size as an AK-47, the prototype weapon is being developed by researchers in China and could be mounted on cars, boats and planes, according to the South China Morning Post.

Deadly – China has reportedly developed a laser assault rifle that can set people on fire (Picture: Getty)

It said from around 800 metres away, the rifle can burn through someone’s clothes and skin and set any flammable clothes alight.

“The pain will be beyond endurance,” an unnamed researcher told the newspaper.

Reports – rumours of the laser rifle follow reports of plans to put trackers in new cars and to monitor citizens using ‘bird drones’ (Picture: Getty)

However, the weapon is apparently classed as ‘non-lethal’.

According to reports, the gun weighs around 3kg (6.6lbs) and is powered by rechargeable lithium batteries that could allow 1,000 zaps at 2 seconds a go.

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It is said to be ready for mass production for China’s military and police only, but maker ZKZM Laser hasn’t found a licensed partner yet.

The latest rumoured development follows similar reports of futuristic plans to install tracking chips into new Chinese-market cars as well as the use of ‘bird drones’ to track citizens and monitor their behaviour.