The U.S. Air Force has established a new, directed energy wargame to be held at least twice yearly to evaluate directed energy technologies under a variety of possible future conflict scenarios.
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Directed Energy Directorate said Jan. 28 that it recently held the Directed Energy Utility Concept Experiment (DEUCE) at Kirtland AFB, N.M.–a simulation in which F-16 pilots, F-15E weapons systems officers, and an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) air battle manager particpated.
Teresa LeGalley, AFRL’s Directed Energy wargaming and simulation lead, said in a statement that the wargame “exposed our visiting warfighters to airborne laser weapon systems and how they might be used to counter threats to accomplish air base air defense and platform protect missions.”
“We engaged the warfighters in several battlefield scenarios,” she said. “They gave us some excellent assessments, identifying where there is potential military utility of directed energy weapons.”
Air Force Capt. Scott Seidenberger of the 552nd Air Control Wing at Tinker AFB, Okla., was the DEUCE Air Battle Manager in the recent exercise and said that the wargame gave operators the opportunity “to test advanced capabilities to meet the high-end threats we face today.”
The Air Force has been conducting operational testing in Africa of the Tactical High-Power Microwave Operational Responder (THOR) electromagnetic weapon to protect air bases by disabling drones or swarms of drones (Defense Daily, Dec. 17).
An AFRL Directed Energy Directorate team, including BAE Systems and Albuquerque-based Verus Research, developed THOR. Last November, Black Sage said that it had received an Air Force contract to provide a radar system for THOR to provide targeting data for the system.
In April last year, the Air Force said that it had begun an overseas field assessment of a directed energy system for base defense and that it had five systems under consideration for fielding, including THOR, the Raytheon [RTX] High Energy Laser (HELWS), and the Raytheon High Power Microwave (PHASER). The service did not specify what the other two systems are.
Last month, Richard Joseph, the Air Force’s chief scientist, said that THOR is “better than anything else we have right now” for base defense against drones and called THOR’s performance “quite impressive.”