US Air Force issues RFI for counter-drone laser weapons

World Defense & Security News - United States
US Air Force issues RFI for counter-drone laser weapons
The US Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation office recently released a request for information to industry as part of market research analyses in support of an upcoming experimentation demonstration using directed energy technology to counter unmanned aircraft systems, the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs said on Sept. 26.
US Air Force issues RFI for counter drone laser weapons 640 001(Credit: Lockheed Martin)
This experimentation campaign comes at the direction of the US Air Force Directed Energy Weapons Flight Plan, signed in May 2017 by the Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

We identified directed energy as a game-changing technology area in our Air Force strategy and pressed forward with developing a flight plan to define what we needed to do to get from the laboratory to operational capability,” said Dr. Greg Zacharias, Chief Scientist of the Air Force. “Experimentation and prototyping are critical tools to help make this happen.”

The US Air Force is seeking information regarding the industry capability to provide a directed energy weapons system for targeting group 1 and group 2 unmanned aircraft systems during a counter-UAS operation. The SDPE office is planning the experimentation campaign for fiscal year 2018.

Forward base defense was one of the used cases for directed energy outlined in the flight plan,” said Dr. Michael Jirjis, experimentation campaign program manager. “We’re looking to assess capabilities and maturity of directed energy technologies available today and in the near-term.”

Directed energy weapons, which includes high energy lasers and high power microwaves, can provide the ability to precisely engage targets of interest with little to no collateral impacts and provide protection to Air Force assets that must operate in harm’s way.

Experimentation will be key to the deployment of directed energy weapons, but the required critical thinking will come from all corners of the Air Force, not just scientists and engineers,” said Jirjis. “There will be collaboration from warfighters, planners, logisticians and more.

Responses from U.S. and non-U.S. firms will be accepted until 15 October 2017, 4:00PM EST, the US Air Force said.