Saturday, July 24, 2021

Directed Energy Is The Only Credible Answer To The WMD DuJour - The Drone Swarm

thedrive |  The Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base has released a new analysis of the Department of Defense’s investments into directed energy technologies, or DE. The report, titled “Directed Energy Futures 2060,” makes predictions about what the state of DE weapons and applications will be 40 years from now and offers a range of scenarios in which the United States might find itself either leading the field in DE or lagging behind peer-state adversaries. In examining the current state of the art of this relatively new class of weapons, the authors claim that the world has reached a “tipping point” in which directed energy is now critical to successful military operations.

One of the document’s most eyebrow-raising predictions is that a “force field” could be created by “a sufficiently large fleet or constellation of high-altitude DEW systems” that could provide a "missile defense umbrella, as part of a layered defense system, if such concepts prove affordable and necessary.” The report cites several existing examples of what it calls “force fields,” including the Active Denial System, or “pain ray,” as well as non-kinetic counter-drone systems, and potentially counter-missile systems, that use high-power microwaves to disable or destroy their targets. Most intriguingly, the press release claims that “the concept of a DE weapon creating a localized force field may be just on the horizon.”

In a press release accompanying the document, AFRL’s Directed Energy Deputy Chief Scientist Jeremy Murray-Krezan adds that current directed energy technology is “not quite Star Wars," but adds that the AFRL is "getting close.” The document describes advances occurring both in the private sector and the Department of Defense that are driving the size and weight of DE systems down while increasing power, making the kinds of weapons dreamed about in science fiction seem more like reality. The authors describe the concept in more detail:

The “holy grail” from a military utility perspective is a DE weapon system effective enough, favorable from a SWAP perspective, and affordable enough to provide a nuclear/missile umbrella. Although a concept often associated with science fiction, in fact ground and ship-based DE defense systems effectively act like point-localized force fields against small and relatively soft targets today. Airborne and space-based DE platforms could achieve a greater area defense and multipoint defenses, for a broader coverage missile umbrella.

“By 2060 we can predict that DE systems will become more effective, and this idea of a force field includes methods to destroy other threats too,” Murray-Krezan said in the press release. “Eventually there may be potential to achieve the penultimate goal of a Nuclear or ballistic missile umbrella. It’s fun to think about what that might be in 2060, but we don't want to speculate too much.”