Are Airborne Lasers the Future of U.S. Military Missile Defense?

July 17, 2015

Are Airborne Lasers the Future of U.S. Military Missile Defense?

Will the U.S. military use lasers shot from airborne drones to shoot down enemy missiles in the near future? The Department of Defense is not keeping secret that its testing a laser which may, in the future, be attached to airborne drones and used for missile defense. The nominee to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, along with Navy Adm. William Gortney both say it is vital for the United States military to develop weapons technology which can intercept ballistic missiles earlier in flight, and lasers look to be the future weapon to do that.

So, how long will we have to wait to see this military weapons technology? Well, while they are not airborne lasers attached to drones, military news source BuiltUSA did report just four weeks ago that Navy lasers will make Ford-class aircraft carriers their home on the sea. And here at HeroGiveaways, we also shared a blog post which reported that the Army and Air Force utilizing laser technology for bomb disposal to mitigate risk to our military personnel.

While those military lasers are nowhere near what will be needed to take out ballistic missiles from the air, it turns out the United States Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are already testing laser weapons technology which could eventually be deployed on a drone in the air.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford Discusses Airborne Lasers

The nominee for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff discussed the need to find ways to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles earlier in flight in his written remarks which are part of his confirmation process. Here is part of what was in those remarks as shared by the Defense Tech blog.
“The science shows a ballistic missile is comparatively easy to detect and track while boosting.” He added, “Further, countermeasures on a missile, such as decoys designed to distract defensive systems, are not typically deployed until after the booster burns out. As such, boost-phase intercept is an attractive missile defense alternative.”
Dunford said he would support more funding to develop a boost-phase airborne laser weapon system for missile defense in the next decade, “but only if operationally, technically and economically practical. The current budget supports pursuit of a laser demonstrator. A laser potentially would be capable of acquiring, tracking, and eventually destroying an enemy missile at a much lower cost than existing systems.”

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