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.