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Directed energy weapons like high-energy lasers could be a game changer in future wars, but the Defense Department (DoD) has yet to field these weapons at scale even though they have been in development for decades.

  • Col. Mark Gunzinger (USAF Ret.), director at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, said DoD’s progress is “really exciting” as it plans to deploy a 300-kilowatt laser this November for testing and to field megawatt-class lasers, which will be effective against some types of ballistic missiles, in a few years.
  • Gunzinger said directed energy weapons do not need to be reloaded and are cheaper because they are powered by electricity.
  • He said war games have shown it is useful to integrate directed energy systems with kinetic defenses.

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February 2023
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