As the technology evolves, nations worldwide are keeping a finger on the pulse of directed energy (DE) and the opportunities it could entail for accurate, powerful and cost-effective weapons systems of the future. As with most experimental developments, most eyes are trained on the activity taking place in the United States, where significant investment is being made to further this progress.
Directed energy represents a range of fledgling technology, some of which may well prove to be game-changers for the future of law enforcement. Investment into the research, development, and procurement of non-lethal weapons for law enforcement has recently included crowd control systems such as tear gases, malodorants, water cannons, sticky foam and electroshock solutions – all with varying degrees of success.
The U.S. Navy has released this footage of the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) Operational demonstration aboard USS Ponce. Directed Energy Systems & Next Generation Munitions will feature experts and decision-makers as well as those specializing in new naval DE solutions.
This report, from Mark Gunzinger and Chris Dougherty of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), examines DE as a particularly promising source of operational advantage for the military. The unique attributes of future DE capabilities—the ability to create precise, tailorable effects against multiple targets near-instantaneously and at a very low cost per shot—have great potential to help defence ministries break from a programme of procuring increasingly expensive military technologies with diminishing operational returns.
In spite of the rapid progress of directed energy systems, there remains a wealth of uphill challenges for the market. In particular, there is an enormous amount of uncertainty when it comes to the true costs and capabilities of these systems, not to mention how much pressure other issues will place on their development, from safety to legal considerations.
This paper combines the concepts of technology, integration and manufacturing readiness levels, adapted for use in defense acquisition, into a single metric, System Readiness Level (SRL), that can be used as a clear indicator to identify areas for resource allocation to enable the most efficient and effective path to technology transition.