There’s no shortage of U.S. military interest in battlefield lasers and other directed-energy weapons. From truck-mounted lasers to high-powered microwaves that take down small drones, the Army, Navy, and Air Force are all exploring the possibilities. But congressional leaders say for all that interest, the technology’s not getting into the field fast enough.
The $200 million the Senate bill provides could be used to prototype various directed energy weapons at the assistant secretary’s discretion, it highlights several “specific missions in which directed energy could provide solutions to capability gaps,” including fighting off UAVs, rockets, artillery, and mortars.
“We’ve done a lot of microwave work on the side of being able to send in a cruise missile that knocks out electronics,” Heinrich said. “That is just as important as the counter-UAV mission. Both of them are pretty critical at the moment.”
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and other labs are making moves to test directed energy weapons to tackle these solutions. DARPA just announced a competition to demonstrate systems that could take down swarms of drones a kilometer away.