The US Air Force’s (USAF) Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) office has issued a request for information (RFI) to industry partners for directed energy weapons that could be used in an experimentation campaign.
The RFI seeks input on the industry capability to provide a directed energy weapons system for targeting group 1 and group 2 unmanned aircraft systems (UASs).
The USAF will use directed energy technology to counter UASs as part of an upcoming experimentation demonstration.
The testing is in line with the Air Force Directed Energy Weapons Flight Plan signed in May.
USAF chief scientist Dr Greg Zacharias said: “We identified directed energy as a game-changing technology area in our airforce strategy and pressed forward with developing a Flight Plan to define what we needed to do to get from the laboratory to operational capability.
“Experimentation and prototyping are critical tools to help make this happen.”
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The directed energy weapons such as high-energy lasers and high-power microwaves can provide the ability to precisely engage targets of interest with little to no collateral impacts, while they can also provide protection to USAF assets, the USAF stated.
USAF experimentation campaign programme manager Dr Michael Jirjis said: “Forward base defence was one of the used cases for directed energy outlined in the Flight Plan.
“We’re looking to assess capabilities and maturity of directed energy technologies available today and in the near-term.”
The SDPE office is expected to conduct the experimentation campaign next year.