Pentagon science adviser Howard Meyer has suggested conditions are ripe for the emergence of directed energy weapons as the military is lowering expectations for laser technology and the likelihood of an attack is increasing, Breaking Defense reported Monday.
Sydney Freedberg writes Mayer expressed confidence that the Defense Department’s laser weapons system programs will take off by borrowing inspiration from the manufacturing industry.
“I can buy lasers for welding, for cutting,” Meyer told Freedberg after addressing participants at this week’s Directed Energy Weapons: Technologies and Prospects seminar at the Marshall Institute.
“There are thousands of these systems out in industry applications all over the world.”
Freedburg reports that miniaturization of electronic components could play part in the viability of a ship- or truck-borne directed-energy weapon ready for rapid self-defense missions.
According to Meyer, the military has also moderated its expectations of laser capabilities as a tactical defense for shooting down drones and other small, slow-moving targets in short range, which he said further presents the DoD programs with achievable missions.
Freedberg cited Congressional Research Service analyst Ronald O’Rourke, who told the seminar that the U.S. Navy‘s Laser Weapon System essentially comprises six commercial welding lasers that strapped together converge into a single beam.
The Navy will take LaWS to the at-sea testing phase in summer and real-world deployment is targeted for 2021, the report said.