Asymmetric Dialogue

Pentagon wants more money for directed-energy weapons for drone-swarm and missile defense

Summary The U.S. military will request more money to develop lasers, microwave beams, and other directed-energy weapons to fight off missiles and drone swarms, the Pentagon’s top weapons engineer says. Defense One reports.
The U.S. military will request more money to develop lasers, microwave beams, and other directed-energy weapons to fight off missiles and drone swarms, the Pentagon’s top weapons engineer says. Defense One reports.





"You’re going to see, in upcoming budgets for missile defense, a renewed emphasis on laser scaling [meaning scaling up the power of laser weapons] across several technologies,” says Michael Griffin, defense undersecretary for research and engineering.

“In my opinion, we are no more than a few years away from having laser weapons of military utility,” Griffin says. “In units of ones or twos, we can roll out tens of kilowatts. That is within a factor of two or three of being useful on a battlefield, airplane or ship” to take out enemy drone swarms, Griffin says. A space-based weapon that could destroy boost-phase missiles would require power in the megawatt class.

One big question remains: whether missile-defense satellites will make it into the Missile Defense Review, the Trump administration’s plan for next-generation missiles and missile defense. “It will be shared when the administration is ready to share it,” Griffin says.