Directed Energy Weapons: What’s New?

The Splett Set knows about my long-standing interest in advanced weapon systems in general and directed energy weapons in particular.  Since my last post, if anything the urgency for fielding and deploying directed energy solutions has become even greater as the global threat environment has, in the opinion of all the major stakeholders, become at least significantly more complex and probably significantly worse.

Although I remain a big fan of High Energy Lasers, I’ve taken a shine in recent weeks to High Power Microwave systems which I see as the “Little Engine that Could” in the DE arsenal.

This is not to say that I’m not aware of their limitations.  The “sex appeal” of DE weaponry in general is clearly based in its defensive versatility in countering the emerging threats from fast projectiles —  be they ballistic missiles, hypersonic cruise missiles, or hypersonic glide vehicles —  utilized by technologically adept hostile state and non-state actors.

Unfortunately, the microwave weapons currently under development have too short a range to create significant weapons effects on missiles.  Right now, their primary utility is in riot-control where they can be used to incapacitate crowds by heating the water in their bodies much like a baked potato in a microwave oven.  The resulting pain is said to be excruciating though there are no lasting effects and rioters can return to their jobs almost immediately.

Still, does it have to be so?  Must microwave weapons be stuck in the “weapons ghetto” of riot control duty as opposed to the far more glamorous A-List of Missile Defense.? There are some forward thinkers, especially in the Navy which has taken the lead on DE research and development, who believe that it may be possible to increase the effective radiating power of certain HP Microwave Weapons operating in RADAR wavelengths by pulsing their output so that they destroy incoming missiles by targeting sensitive electronic components through their sensor apertures.

As a big fan of HE Microwave Weapons, I’ve got my fingers crossed that this approach will pan out.

Stay tuned for more on this fascinating subject!