Directed Energy Weapons: Prospects and Technology

The Department of Defense has been researching and developing high-energy military lasers for decades, and these weapons systems are currently a subject of debate in Congress. A House Armed Services Committee panel described the Army’s Solid State Laser Testbed and the Navy’s Laser Weapon System as “items of special interest” in its draft of the 2014 defense authorization bill and supported the Navy’s plans to deploy the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) on the amphibious transport dock USS Ponce for further testing.

A recent Congressional Research Service report found that equipping the fleet with lasers could lead to changes in naval tactics, ship design, and procurement plans for ship-based weapons, bringing about a technological shift for the Navy—a “game changer”—comparable to the advent of shipboard missiles in the 1950s.

On May 19, the George C. Marshall Institute assembled a panel of experts to discuss the state of the Directed Energy Weapons programs, their uses and military applications, and their integration into strategic planning,

The speakers are:

Dr. Howard R. Meyer, Jr., Science Advisor, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Department of Defense
Mr. Mark Gunzinger, Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments
Ronald O’Rourke, Specialist in Naval Affairs, Congressional Research Service

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