As threats continue to evolve in quantity (e.g., swarms of UAVs or fast inshore attack craft (FIAC)), speed (e.g., hypersonics), and lethality (e.g., highly maneuverable cruise missiles and intercontinental ballistic missiles), the services are being challenged to identify ways to counter them. What they’ve found is that the deep magazine, speed-of-light engagement, and favorable cost-exchange ratio of Directed Energy weapons help to counter these qualities.
As a complement to kinetic weapons, Directed Energy weapons can provide enhanced and highly effective capabilities for boost-phase ballistic missile defense, hypersonic threats, unmanned systems, surface warfare, aerial defense, and asymmetric swarm threats to ships, aircraft, vehicles, and people.
“The threats are real. We know that. The capability gaps exist. Around the world, we're seeing this proliferation of relatively inexpensive threats from rockets and missiles and artillery and mortar and UAVs,” Senator Martin Heinrich (New Mexico) was recently quoted as saying. “In every wargame scenario,” he continued, “these weapons are proliferating and threatening our ability to operate freely. The proliferation of rockets, of cheap artillery, of cheap mortars, of UAVs and missiles: that is the problem. And Directed Energy is the solution.”
What was once pursued in a laboratory environment is now an operational necessity, and our continued military superiority may very well depend on how well that transition occurs.