Directed energy weapons may not be a hot topic now, but what we decide today will help define the future of our national defense. To give you a look at the road ahead, we interviewed Senior Fellow Mark Gunzinger of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA). The organization is the premiere forum for addressing the potential of directed energy technologies and Booz Allen’s co-sponsor for the annual Directed Energy Summit.
We’ve been hearing about the promise of directed energy weapons for years. What’s the new headline today? The headline: The promise is about to become a reality. The Department of Defense (DoD) has requested funding for initiatives to develop prototype directed energy capabilities to defend against air and cruise missile threats; to intercept ballistic missiles in their boost phase of flight; to defeat rockets, artillery and mortars; possibly to help counter swarms of small unmanned aircraft; and to address other threats. There is even talk about using lasers to protect vulnerable aerial refueling tankers. This is indicative of two things. First, it points to the fact that Directed Energy technologies are now sufficiently mature to support rapid prototyping. Second, it suggests there is a growing awareness of the potential for directed energy weapons to help restore our military’s comparative advantages and to do so at a cost that is affordable.
Why is the Directed Energy Summit so critical to the forward movement of directed energy capabilities? As in previous years, the 2018 Directed Energy Summit is a forum for national security strategists, planners, technology experts, and military operators to get together and discuss emerging threats and how directed energy technologies could lead to new operating concepts and capabilities to address them. In other words, the power of the Summit is in bringing together these different communities to explore new options and create connections that could bear fruit in the future.