DOD Officials Discuss Quantum Science, 5G and Directed Energy
MARCH 9, 2021 | BY DAVID VERGUN, DOD NEWS
Three of the Defense Department’s 11 principal directors of modernization within the Office of Defense Research and Engineering, discussed directed energy.
James Trebes, principal director for directed energy, said there’s been a lot of good development in directed energy after a number of years when there were some false starts.
“The technology provided by solid-state electric lasers, in particular, is really opening up a lot of opportunities. The industry is developing nicely. They’re expanding their capability and investing their own money. We’re funding a major effort in industry to build high-power lasers, Trebes said.
There’s a multiphase approach now underway with four companies under contract to make 300-kilowatt lasers, he said. The first will start arriving in 18 months and the last in about 24 months from now.
Those laser systems will be transitioned to the services for test and evaluation demonstrations, Trebes said. “These are not laboratory lasers. These are transportable lasers intended to demonstrate real military capability.”
He added: “These are not systems operated by PhD scientists in the lab. They’re out there being run by enlisted personnel in the real world across different combatant commands. We’re finding out what does work. How do you integrate these things? How do you maintain them? What doesn’t work? This is where we learn what we really have to do. That’s a critical part of what we do.”
As soon as those lasers are produced, the department will begin developing 500-kilowatt lasers, [which] will take 24 to 36 months. Then the department will immediately start developing megawatt lasers, he said.
“There’s a clear, well-defined path to get to a very substantial laser capability,” he said. “There’s a smaller effort in microwave [technology] area going on.”
Some other focus areas include missile defense, he said. “We are closely tracking our adversaries’ missile capabilities: cruise missiles, hypersonic missiles, ballistic missiles, and we’re looking at near-term counter missile capability. We’re also looking at offensive strikes again.”