I Used to Direct the Missile Defense Agency. America Needs New WeaponsJuly 6, 2018
One might imagine that using a beam of light as a weapon is a recent military development, but the practice may date back more than 2,000 years. Legend has it that Archimedes, a Greek mathematician and engineer, used mirrors to direct the sun’s rays at approaching enemy ships to try to set their sails on fire.
Today, high-energy laser and high-power microwave systems—or “directed energy” weapons, which use focused electromagnetic energy—have been shown to work and could combat a variety of emerging threats, but more investment is needed to bring them into the hands of our warfighters more quickly to protect the American people.
With the Pentagon’s long-anticipated Missile Defense Review expected to be released soon, it is important for government and defense decision-makers to understand directed energy’s applications for missile defense. Directed energy weapons reach targets at the speed of light, and have much larger magazines, cost less per shot, and track targets with precision far beyond traditional kinetic weapons.