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Del Toro Eyes Increased Navy Spending on Directed Energy Weapons to Counter Missiles, Drones

Carlos Del Toro,

Secretary,

Department of the Navy

Del Toro Eyes Increased Navy Spending on Directed Energy Weapons to Counter Missiles, Drones

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the fiscal year 2025 Navy budget request that the service branch will spend more on directed energy weapons, such as lasers, to reduce the cost of counter-drone and anti-missile solutions.

Del Toro,  2024 Wash100 winner and a past Potomac Officers Club speaker, said he envisions a five-to-10-year timeline for Navy ships to “start aggressively employing those capabilities.” The service installed its shipborne laser defense more than 10 years ago, a slow deployment that could ramp up following advances in laser technology and a refocus on solutions with reduced range capabilities, DefenseOne reported.

According to a Congressional Research Service report released in February, laser advocates are optimistic about faster development with the shift from the earlier goal of countering threats at tens or hundreds of miles to zeroing in on targets within a few miles.  

The report cited as an encouraging technological advancement the 60-kilowatt solid-state laser technology that Lockheed Martin delivered to USS Preble in August 2022 to help the Navy field more powerful laser-based defense systems.

Outside of the Navy, the Air Force Research Laboratory announced in November 2021 that it signed a four-year, $2.4 million cooperative agreement for the development of a directed energy research and development facility within the University of New Mexico, which is expected to be operational in 2025.

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