Directed energy weapons draw closer to reality

I’ve written on several previous occasions about the ongoing development of directed energy weapons, and their potential for operational use.  It looks like that may happen in the US Navy in the not too distant future, according to a report in Ares today.

Most aircraft slated to go onto aircraft carries have to go through an electronic magnetic interference test that bathes the design in about 200 volts per meter.

But the test platform for the Navy’s unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike (Uclass) aircraft program, will have to endure 10 times the electronic stress.

An X-47B test aircraft is being prepared for its move into the anechoic chamber at NAS Patuxent River, Md. It must be able to survive and operate in an environment of a stunning 2,000 volts per meter.

Undoubtedly that means the Navy wants a design for its … aircraft program that would be able to fire a permanently installed, rechargeable, anti-electronics weapon. Such a high-power microwave device could be used at close range against enemy systems – such as sophisticated, long-range air defenses – without damaging the UCLASS system’s own electronics.

There’s more at the link.  For those wanting to know more about electromagnetic testing in an anechoic chamber, I wrote about it a few weeks ago, and included this photograph of a CV-22 Osprey aircraft in such a chamber at Eglin AFB in Florida.

I find it very significant that the US Navy is looking to test the X-47B in so harsh an electromagnetic environment – particularly because the service apparently expects to deploy such an aircraft by 2018.  That’s only six years from now.

Artist’s impression of Northrop Grumman X-47B (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

One can only speculate about the directed energy weapon(s) that must be currently under development in Navy and commercial laboratories, ready to be mounted in such an aircraft by that deadline.



  1. So, a carrier-launched drone fighter? Interesting…I'll wait and see how well it handles trapping aboard in foul weather at night… JohninMd(help)

  2. I think it is very significant that these things are going to be deployed on unmanned vehicles.
    My little understanding of them and their principles of operation is that if anything goes minimally wrong at firing time, everyone within a small radius around them will go into molecular meltdown…

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