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Directed energy viewed as 'transforming'. (Washington Pulse).

The United States must speed up development of directed-energy weapons, to stay ahead of potential enemies, said retired Air Force Gen. Ronald Fogleman.

"Directed-energy weapons [such as lasers] will be the cornerstone of America's arsenal in the 21st century. ... [They have] the potential to become the single most transforming weapon," he told a conference sponsored by the Lexington Institute, a public policy think tank.

He noted that further development is needed to make laser weapons a reality, however. "We understand the physics; it's no longer an issue of technology. Now [the problem] is engineering," he said.

The ability to get laser weapons to the battlefield "will be determined by our vision and determination," he said.

Some non-lethal laser technologies have been tested in battle already, Fogleman said. Lasers were employed as tactical aids in Somalia, he said. In one instance, a laser was used as a spotlight to guide troops in the dark. The laser, invisible to the naked eye, could only be seen with night-vision goggles, he said.

Potential enemies of the United States are also investing in directed energy, Fogleman said. "I'm not in the camp of people who believe China is our enemy, but you can't ignore their potential. I am led to believe that the Chinese are very actively working on these programs," Fogleman said. Russia also had an extensive research program in this area, and "they've done a lot of work in the field of high-powered microwave."
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Author:Book, Elizabeth G.
Publication:National Defense
Date:Oct 1, 2002
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