Lasers in combat: New Space and Missile Defense Commander on What”s to Come

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September 11, 2017 | Originally published by Date Line: September 11 on

The Army’s future air-and-missile defense capabilities are taking shape under the newest Space and Missile Defense commander, Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, particularly in laser-armed combat vehicles and the Integrated Air-and-Missile Defense system (IAMD), both considered to be crucial enablers for the maneuver force.

How the Army will employ laser weapons in combat and what the IAMD system will look like are at a crossroads, with decisions on paths forward expected in the upcoming years. The SMDC is leading the Army’s high-energy laser science and technology efforts that would provide the service with a low-cost, but effective complement to kinetic energy solutions to take out air threats.

The Army has long said it needs to develop interceptors that don’t cost $1 million a shot to take out unsophisticated low-cost targets like small, unmanned aircraft systems.