U.S. Marine Corps operations are demanding. Weapons need to be ruggedized and mobile for quick assaults. And high-energy laser weapons such as those the Navy is developing will be large and draw high levels of power. For the Marines to be able to employ these laser weapons, the technologies must be as efficient and as small as possible, says Jeff Tomczak, deputy director of the Science & Technology (S&T) Division at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory.
For lasers—and really all weapon systems—in Marine Corps applications, the focus primarily is to make capabilities as light and as expeditionary as possible. Tomczak emphasizes that weapon size matters when warfighters have to get gear ashore.
“We know and have found that the larger and heavier things get into the fight a little slower than lighter things that we can carry quickly,” he explains. “If you have the right things in the right place at the right time, you may not need the bigger things.”
Keeping size, weight and power considerations in mind, the Warfighting Laboratory is working closely with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to develop directed energy technologies, including lasers the Marines can use to counter air, ground, surface and subsurface unmanned system threats. The Marines collectively call these myriad devices “U-Excess.”