The state of the art of DE (Directed Energy) technologies against UAVs (and many other targets) were exposed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), at the recent Air Force Association Conference in Washington, D.C. Let us see them briefly:
- A single High Power Microwave (HPM) weapon could provide low-collateral damage of multiple targets.
- It is an alternative to the kinetic means of defeating an emitting/electronic target.
- The next step will be to design, develop and test a multi-shot, multi-target HPM cruise missile.
Laser: COIL vs HEL
- The Chemical-Oxygen Iodine Laser (COIL) technology demonstrated by the Boeing YAL-1 Airborne Laser Testbed has effectively been superseded by solid-state high-energy lasers.
- The next step, by 2022, will be to repackage a HEL (High Energy Laser) in the 10kW-class into a pod that could be carried by an F-15 fighter. Such an airborne HEL could engage and defeat enemy aircraft or air-to-air missiles at moderate range, or provide precise and selectable (power), low-collateral attack of ground targets.
- Later in the next decade, a sixth-generation fighter could carry an efficient, lightweight HEL in the 100kW class with a conformal aperture beam.