From the Crows' Nest

Directed energy has progressed significantly in the past year, with warfighters field-testing multiple prototypes. But how can we ensure the technology is operationally relevant from the lab to the user? Ken Miller talks with Christopher Behre about how the directed energy community is progressing and scaling directed energy weapons that ensure mission success. 

Chris Behre is Principal Engineer for Directed Energy Weapons for Electronic Warfare in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. Ken and Chris discuss the achievements of directed energy innovations, the need to focus on overhauling testing facilities and infrastructure to improve capabilities, and how each military branch is using directed energy weapons. 

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Creators & Guests

Ken Miller
Cassidy Butler
Laura Krebs
Reese Clutter

What is From the Crows' Nest?

This podcast features interviews, analysis, and discussions covering leading issues of the day related to electromagnetic spectrum operations (EMSO). Topics include current events and news worldwide, US Congress and the annual defense budget, and military news from the US and allied countries. We also bring you closer to Association of Old Crow events and provide a forum to dive deeper into policy issues impacting our community.

Ken Miller (00:10):
Welcome to From The Crow's Nest, a podcast on electromagnetic spectrum operations or EMSO. I'm your host, Ken Miller, director of Advocacy and outreach for the Association of Old Crows. You can follow me and the show on Twitter @FTCNHost. Thanks for listening.

In this episode, we talk about directed energy with Christopher Berry, principal engineer for the directed Energy Weapons program in the office of the Undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and sustainment, the Electronic Warfare Director. All right, before I introduce Chris, I just want to set the discussion up by mentioning that it's been great to see over recent years the electric magnetic warfare community and the directed energy community come together with greater collaboration in programs and efforts. I know from AOC perspective, we have a good partnership with the Directed Energy Professional Society, DEPS. We have a lot of exchanges there. There's also a lot of efforts at the local level and at local agencies on the ground in the US and around the world, and it's a trend that's moving in the right direction and one that's been long overdue. So it's really great to see that.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Chris in January and shortly after the recording of the interview, the AOC's Journal of Electromagnetic Dominance came out with its feature story for January, which just so happened to be on directed energy weapons and specifically high-powered microwave systems, HPM weapons. The title of the article is High Powered Microwave Systems Getting Much, Much Closer to Operational Status written by Barry Mans. And the article does a great job of giving just a overarching history of HPM weapons that dates back much further than I even thought, back into the fifties and sixties. So it was really interesting to see the ebb and flow of the tech development that took place over the decades and how it's getting closer once again to operational status. And then he puts it into context in current operations, taking a look at Russian Ukraine, he specifically looks at the drone strikes that Russia is conducting against Ukraine and Ukraine's efforts to counter those using surface-to-air missiles, which of course increases the cost of engagement dramatically.

HPM weapons then of course offer a much lower cost alternative that provides immediate operational relevance to conflicts such as what's going on in Russian and Ukraine. He takes a look at that in great detail. So highly commend the article. Again, it's High Power Microwave Systems Getting Much, Much Closer to Operational Status by Barry Mans. It's in the January edition of the Journal of Electromagnetic Dominance, and you can get that at or through the AOC website at So with that I'm pleased to welcome to the show, Chris Barry. Again, he is the principal engineer for directed energy weapons in the office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition Sustainment, the Electronic Warfare Directorate.

Chris has 22 years experience developing directed energy weapons across the lifecycle. Prior to his current post, he was the portfolio manager for laser weapons systems at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division. In this capacity, Chris worked on numerous programs including the Navy High Energy Laser with integrated optical dazzler and surveillance known as Helios, the Optical Dazzler Indicator, known in the Navy as ODIN, as well as the Airborne High Energy Laser, a program from the Air Force Special Forces Command SOCOM.

Prior to this assignment, Chris was the integrated product team lead at Dahlgren where he worked on programs including the Navy Laser Weapon System, known as LaWS, as well as the directed energy ground-based air defense, future naval capability. So we'll be touching on many of these programs here today and I can't think of a better guest to provide us a state of DE here on From The Crows Nest. So with that, I am pleased to welcome Chris Barry to From The Crows Nest this afternoon. Chris, welcome to the show. It's great to have you on the show.

Chris Barry (04:15):
Great to be here, Ken. Thanks for having me.

Ken Miller (04:17):
During the intro, one of the things I talked about was over the last few years really seeing the electromagnetic warfare and directed energy communities coming together a little bit. The synergy between the two communities has really taken the next step and that's something that we've been wanting to see for a long time, and so that's been really rewarding. And with, I think, that synergy has been kind of an acceleration of a lot of milestones in the directed energy portfolio. So wanted to have you on the show. And I think just to start off, I wanted to get your top-level perspective on what is the state of directed energy here as we're early in 2023, what is the state of DE today?

Chris Barry (05:00):
Yeah, so that's a pretty good question and then it was a very busy calendar year '22. I can touch on some of those highlights. But to answer that first question first, I think today we are sitting at a point where we have multiple, across all services, multiple fielded or fieldable prototypes that are getting war fighter interaction, having opportunities to test overseas in theater, do experimentation overseas in theater. We're seeing some operational successes in that. So we're really at the point now where I believe we've transitioned out of the laboratory. We are touching on the hands of the war fighter, and I think we're at the point now where we're ready to start scaling up and have capability in quantity.

And each one of the services has taken a hard look at where that fits within their budgets, and it's just a matter of fitting in the priority and demonstrating that we have a capability worth investing in that scaling capability. So it's coming. I think the Army's probably ahead of the other two services in demonstrating that where they're procuring multiple units of these prototypes at a time, putting in the hands of their war fighter and have a full transition process and path to take these prototypes and hand them over to the PEO that can then go off it and develop and scale, or purchase and scale.

Ken Miller (06:19):
Coming out there's been a lot of milestones last year and what you're looking for. What are some of the other milestones in the past year in 2022 that caught your attention in terms of the progress that directed energy has made?

Chris Barry (06:33):
I think one of the highlights for me in this past year was in February we were able to shoot down two surrogate cruise missiles at White Sands Missile Range with what's called the Layered Laser Defense System. That was a couple years coming together, A very compact laser weapon system of the Navy helped invest into with IRAD from Lockheed Martin. And it shows the first time we've been back to the point of taking out these very fast, very hard targets since the nineties and that's a pretty big milestone for the DE community as a whole as we look towards making sure we're building weapons that are relevant to today's fight, are relevant to the kinds of targets that the war fighter needs to be worried about. So to grow from that demonstration into the capabilities on multiple other programs I think is going to be very important in the coming years.

Ken Miller (07:24):
One of the frustrations I think over many years has, and you alluded to this earlier, was this notion of kind of transitioning out of the lab. There seemed to be a lot of advances, but it was kind of stuck in the lab and you know, wanted to get directed energy into the field. There was some early success with some Navy programs several years ago, but now you mentioned the operational success. Could you talk a little bit about from your... You've been involved in directed energy now for 20 plus years, you've seen it, the successes and frustrations of the lab, you've seen the transition and now some of the successes in the operational out in the field. Could you talk a little bit about how that has changed the way that we look at directed energy in DOD now that we have operational success to hang our hat on a little bit, and what effect has that had on the work going on in the lab in terms of what's in the pipeline?

Chris Barry (08:17):
Right. I think the typical directed energy lab scientist that you would imagine in almost a meme setting is in his laboratory. He cares a lot about what he's developing and wants to make sure that he hits some metric of power or energy in his output and that should affect something in the field and he's excited about that. What we're at today is now taking that same person, putting him sitting next to a war fighter who says, "That's nice, but I can't turn these seven knobs to make that thing do what I need to do. Help me get to a place where I've got a single button I can push." And we're doing that. We've reached a point across.

Again, all these prototypes have war fighter interfaces that are designed based on feedback from those war fighters and are working through the process of being really capable in the field under reduced manning, not a PhD physicist operating it, but an E-2, and E-3 enlisted person operating the system has been that transition over the last couple years and it's really helped us to add a whole nother depth of dimension into our development process.

So we have to think about things differently. We have to go out and get this feedback from the war fighter and it makes the product better, it makes the product closer and ultimately exactly what the war fighter needs.

Ken Miller (09:40):
That's great to hear because I think a lot of times when we talk about advanced technology, kind of the next generation capability, we sometimes don't talk enough about, you touched on it, the operational relevance of some of this technology, and we've seen this in electronic warfare. And this is one of the things that I think historically when our communities talk, it's like the EW community can kind of bring to the directed energy community in terms of the operational experience. But this notion of making sure it's operationally relevant, it works great in the lab, it tests well, it hits metrics, but once you get in the field and the heat of the fight, certain things might not work the way you want it to work or work as efficiently, or maybe it's not as war fighter friendly and getting that experience in the field is critical to kind of sharpening that capability so it can actually do what it should be doing and what's been tested to do.

Chris Barry (10:30):
Right. So a big piece of that is the environmental piece. I mean, the systems that we've been testing over the last several years in desert type environments and theaters had to withstand temperatures that frankly we hadn't even considered back here in the United States, and that's all part of military standards and you're supposed to meet those. But the scientists in the lab is used to his air-conditioned laboratory. So big step forward in being able to harden these systems for that sort of environment. The other piece of that is to make sure we are going against those relevant targets and targets that really matter to the war fighter. We can take our time to develop a capability against a specific, we'll say, maybe a tactical military type UAV. That's where my first program, LaWS, spent a lot of time on, but that threat evolved very rapidly into what we see today is asymmetric non-tactical UAVs that are basically commercial systems that are being modified very quickly.

So to be able to manage that changeover and be relevant against those targets as well as the military targets, something we were able to do and I think something that the technology's been able to do, but it does require some agility in motion. One of the big milestones we reached this past year in the laser scaling capability that OST research and engineering has been funding is to get back to laser powers relevant to going up against fast moving targets such as cruise missiles. So we're at the 300 kilowatt class now on multiple of these programs and that puts us back in the door of being able to provide capability, not just against these slow and low threats, but some of these much harder targets that the services are struggling with and our adversaries are frankly moving out on very quickly.

Ken Miller (12:19):
I want to talk a little bit about the achievement of the 300 kilowatt class of laser weapons because I'm not a scientist as pretty much every listener on the show knows by now, and when you talk about directed energy, there's a lot that falls in underneath that umbrella of directed energy, including RF, high-power microwave, high-energy lasers. And then when you get into that, you have different power classes and so forth. So can you put in perspective, you mentioned that 300 kilowatt class kind of gets you through the door of the next achievement in terms of threats, can you help the listener who might not be very familiar with some of the progress, how does that fit into some of the other classes of weapons and how they're used?

Chris Barry (13:11):
Sure, sure. So in the realm of counter UAS, where there's been a lot of energy going the last decade or so, I think there's a pretty even pairing between what a high-power microwave system can do and what a relatively easy built laser weapon system can do with the kinds of laser powers we were seeing up until this scaling initiative, which are in the tens of kilowatts realm. As a matter of fact, the Air Force has a program called Tactical High Power Operational Responder or THOR that has demonstrated counter UAS capability at the high power microwave-realm, and then multiple, these laser weapon systems have operated at single kilowatts, multiple kilowatts to be able to take out similar UAVs.

Different mechanisms there. The high power microwave capability has a broad beam that can take out a swarm potentially of UAVs coming in. Whereas a laser weapon is going to pick one at a time and take them down with slightly different kill mechanisms. But there is somewhat of a parody there in what they're capable of doing. To go on up against a more difficult class, something's moving much faster so you have to target it quicker, maybe has a more hardened infrastructure around it or structure around it requires you to now tick that up to a newer level of either energy for a high-power microwave or power for a laser was the forethought of OSTRE to invest in the scaling of these lasers to get them to that point where they can be competitive with other weapons such as defensive missiles or a seaways type weapon for protection against these cruise missiles.

Ken Miller (14:57):
I think a lot of the conversation today is probably going to focus more or less on the high energy laser side of the capability. Right now a lot of what we're talking about when we talk about lasers are fiber lasers. Correct? And could you talk a little bit, just stemming back on to provide a little bit of historical perspective, this transition from chemical laser to fiber laser to help us understand the progress has accelerated over decades as we are starting to understand what we can and can't do and what we need to do against emerging threats?

Chris Barry (15:30):
Sure. Certainly, department defense has been investing in research into high-energy laser weapons since the late sixties, early seventies and all through the seventies, eighties and nineties into the 2000s. The primary research went into either, basically into chemical or gas lasers. And there was some great successes in that timeframe. We had a megawatt class chemical laser at White Sands called Miracle that was able to operate through the eighties and the nineties, and that was the last time we were at a point where we were doing demonstrations against fast moving targets like this.

There was also the airborne laser which had a chemical laser on a 747, which showed success against ballistic missiles and a few other major demonstration programs through that time period. But the department took a hard look at what was really needed to be able to support logistically the environmental impacts and the potential human risk of operating these large chemical lasers with the byproducts that came out of that and decided to step away from that technology.

So we pivoted towards a solid state, or what's electric driven lasers. So now instead of having specific chemicals that you have to have that you'd need to replenish on a routine basis, basically takes a big generator. But you plug into a generator and you're operating these electric lasers with just power and some amount of cooling to remove the waste heat from them. We went through a couple iterations with some solid game materials and some materials that were some alternate architectures on solid game materials, but most of today's investment is going into the fiber lasers you mentioned there. Those kind of came out of the dot com boom. We used fiber lasers to make sure we are able to bring telecommunications across the sea, across the country. That technology then morphed into more powerful fiber lasers that could do welding and cutting. So they're operating in industrial environments and that's where DOD started to get back involved in fiber laser technology.

Any one given fiber laser today still doesn't have a lot of power, a couple kilowatts. But what we've invested in a lot over the last decade is different mechanisms to combine multiple fiber lasers into one laser weapon, whether that's through what we call spectral beam combining or coherent beam combining. Coherent would be a lot like your community might be familiar with coherent arrays for RF, same sort of technology. You phase up the laser weapon, the individual lasers in to look like a single single beam. Spectral works a little bit more like you take multiple colors of lasers and you combine them into a single beam. And we have two of the technologies that R&E has invested heavily in, and saw successes this year were each one of those technologies. So we're at a pretty interesting point on that technology. I think we're looking to maybe go further with it as well, and that has enabled a lot of the laser demonstrators you've seen over the last couple years.

Ken Miller (18:32):
When you talk about going further with it, it seems to me that there's really no limit, speaking in terms of possibility. There might be limits technologically in terms of where we're at now. But there's not a lot of limits on where directed energy can go in terms of its operational value, whether it's lethal or non-lethal activities. But you also have space and communications and even electromagnetic warfare and there's a lot of different things you can do. We have space and counter space missions. What are some of the mission areas that are getting a lot of attention that directed energy weapons can have a positive effect on in terms of our ability to conduct operations in those missions?

Chris Barry (19:22):
So one of the real rewarding things I had with my hat on at Dahlgren as a portfolio manager was to take incoming requests from various parts of the services where they were looking at the successes we were having in the Navy with LaWS and other laser weapons being developed and asking, "Hey, can you come bring some of that to my community? What can we do differently?" One of those programs turned into the Airborne High Energy Laser program that is a Air Force special operations command capability or desire to have funded by SOCOM to put a laser weapon on an AC-130. So that's a whole different target set than we were looking at with the naval forces, but we had a group of people at Dahlgren that were already doing work on the AC-130 and it was a natural combination for us to help them pivot to a directed energy capability.

I'll say that there's other organizations within SOCOM that have come to us with different questions as well, and we've taken a hard look at what we could accomplish. Sometimes we were able to say, "I think we can get there, but it's going to take a little more development." Other times we said, "We still need some more development than I think you have the time for to be able to get to that capability." So being able to provide the war fighters some of the truth in advertising and make sure we're not selling them something that they can't use has been important over that timeframe.

So those are the sort of missionaries that come to mind immediately with that question is some of the expeditionary efforts, some of the special operations efforts. We're trying to meet their needs. We understand they have very important needs that requires us to reach a level of hardening that we were in environmental controls that we were even beyond what we are seeing ship-board. So we're working through those efforts now

Ken Miller (21:05):
At the top of the show, you mentioned the Army has really accelerated its efforts and I don't want to necessarily want to say leading the other services, but they're certainly getting a lot of attention in terms of the progress they've made. And obviously you mentioned earlier that the Navy has had a lot of success in recent years. Could you go through and talk about, and you just touched on the airborne laser at the Air Force, what are some of the things that the services are looking at specifically moving forward here in 2023 in the next couple years in terms of what kinds of capabilities they're looking at to get into the field to help the war fighter from the Army, Navy, Air Force perspectives?

Chris Barry (21:47):
Sure, sure. I think Army's probably, as I mentioned, the one investing the heaviest right now. They've got four different, well, three different ground vehicles and a non-ground vehicle capability that they're heavily investing in right now that are going to be creating combat capable prototypes in '23 and '24. And so the first one that comes to mind is called DE M-SHORAD and that's on a Striker vehicle. There's a lot of press in YouTube videos on that kind a tactical level, low-power laser, or moderate-power laser 50 kilowatt class to be able to combat some of these UAVs and rockets artillery. With that 300 kilowatt capability coming out of OSTR&E, they're going to integrate that into a larger platform called IFPCL and take on some additional targets and that's, again, going to be on a mobile platform.

Then they have a high-power microwave variant of that called IFPC HPM, which will also be doing basically counter air capability for mobile troops. Then they have a portable high-energy laser, which they aren't tying necessarily to any platform, and that's a little bit lower power 10 kilowatt class and we'll be able to take out some of those UAVs at close ranges and provide the force with protection at multiple areas.

The Navy continues to work on a couple of its big programs. So this past year they installed a 60 kilowatt capability on a destroyer that's called Helios. Over the next year they'll be bringing that ship out of the yards and doing operational work with it, testing, getting it fully qualified. That's a big step forward for the Navy and that this is the first laser weapon of the suite of eight or nine that we've fielded in the past that is actually integrated into the combat system.

So it's not as much a standalone capability. It's really tied into how the ship normally does business and that's going to be something we need to do, and it was important to be able to accomplish as we look forward to any potential future programs of record. The Air Force, as I mentioned a minute ago, is now let a follow on to this... Or maybe I didn't mention, but the Air Force is letting a follow on to that THOR program I mentioned a minute ago called Bjorn. This is the hammer that Thor used, so this is the take the technology they built, which is a fairly large platform counter UAS capability and work to shrink that down, inject new technology. That contract was led in '22, and over the next year or so we ought to see some successes coming out of that. So they're focused on some of those high-power microwave capabilities and they continue to do some of the best S&T work for high-energy laser out there as well.

Ken Miller (24:27):
I want to talk a little bit about the integration of directed energy weapons and electromagnetic warfare. I mentioned earlier that it seems to have accelerated in the conversation over the recent years. I was at a conference last year by the Directed Energy Professional Society. We attend their conferences annually as well as they attend ours, and the crosstalk between those communities has really stepped up in recent years and it's really been great to see.

One of the conversation pieces from a technology front will go to multi-function systems. One, we're no longer talking about single mission boxes that do electronic warfare. We're talking about technologies do a number of different things including EW, and directed energy also fits into that. And one of the conversation pieces, how can these communities come together earlier in the development process to kind of integrate so that when we talk multifunction systems, we can understand that we can create a system that includes EW and directed energy and other capabilities earlier in development so that we're not trying to deal with the integration later on at probably a more costly point in time? Could you talk a little bit about some of the progress that's been made to integrate these two capabilities in these two communities earlier in development?

Chris Barry (25:44):
Yeah, I think actually you mentioned coming to some of the DEPS conferences I've been attending internationally in the symposium the last couple years as well. In October, or November, I was very pleased to see that Epirus was one of the vendors that had a booth. So they have probably the best I've seen so far and a capability to transition between high-power microwave and EW capability in the fact that they have software defined solid state radios that they're currently using today in a high-power microwave environment. But to be able to take and redefine the waveforms and the power levels or the ranges that are coming out of that same set of hardware to do an EW mission I think is perfectly within the realm of possible. So to see them interacting with the electronic warfare community as opposed to just the directed energy community, I think is kind of the first step I'm seeing towards that happening on the commercial side.

Inside the department, I think one of the reasons I'm sitting at OSTA&S today is to help with some of that conversation and to make sure that as we look at acquiring directed energy capabilities, we are doing a better job of integrating them with electronic warfare. There's mission sets that either one of the technologies, electronic warfare or directed energy, is a partial answer, but not a full answer. But when you put the two together in an integrated capability, you're achieving a much higher capability and you're actually taking out that threat as opposed to just potentially taking out that threat.

And I've seen some work in the S&T environment on trying to do that early on, but I think it's an area that we need to continue to push on not only in industry and through our organizations, but also within DOD and within the S&T environment. So a very important capability because you're right on the back end if we're putting some sort of control system around these multiple weapons and we need to make them operate in unison, that is a more challenging problem.

Ken Miller (27:39):
When we talk about capability development and earlier in discussing getting these systems out in the field, you mentioned that the systems have to be built to standards and I wanted to touch on, there's been a lot of progress on the standards front with open systems architectures. That's been a huge piece in terms of the evolution of electromagnetic warfare technologies and systems. Could you talk a little bit about how Modular Systems' open architecture has made its way into the direct to energy community and how is that community addressing the standards issue?

Chris Barry (28:17):
Certainly, good question. So another area of investment from OST research and engineering was to develop a directed energy weapon system reference architecture. I very happily led that effort for several years before I came over to A&S, and my boss within A&S immediately told me to continue to advocate for that and recognized the importance of it. So I've been able to keep my hands involved in that. So in July we released a first version of that reference architecture that basically breaks down either a laser or a high power microwave weapon into specific modules that then vendors can then go after and build within that module anything that they care to with their IP, and they can plug into other modules without giving up that IP to creator design, or without requiring the government to come back and procure multiple modules to be able to replace a certain capability.

It's a good design. One of the aha moments we had in the process of going through developing that reference architecture was that we were already naturally probably two thirds aligned with the Sensor Open Systems Architecture organization that has been very active in the EW community SOSA. So what we've been doing since July is to go back and engage with SOSA to kind of move this reference architecture under their governance structure, and then the one third of the capability that isn't already very aligned we're going through and massaging those pieces to make sure they do align better.

So in a sense, we are joining the EW community's open architecture efforts, at least with under the SOSA capability. We've also looked at how well that architecture aligns with the Army's SMOS standards and we're seeing fairly strong alignment there. There's some more work to be done on that as well, but basically an opportunity here to show that you can be using the same open systems approaches for electronic warfare or direct energy weapons. It's just in how you stack those modules and what you put inside each one.

Ken Miller (30:22):
I want to talk a little bit about the people behind it. We talk a lot about the capability. We talk the technology and the science behind it, but the people are extremely important. Obviously there's the war fighter and the engineer. One of the topics that we've talked a lot about is workforce development and making sure that we have the right people in the right positions from the lab to the field to make sure that we can stay ahead of the curve in terms of getting the right capabilities into the war fighter's hands. So could you talk a little bit about how the directed energy community is tackling the recruiting and workforce development of the right people? And that can be any number of different classes or categories of people or professions. But how is the directed energy community addressing some of those struggles on recruiting and workforce development?

Chris Barry (31:16):
Yeah, I've watched kind of a sea turn on that over the last couple decades of my career. I mentioned that we've been working in development of directed energy weapons since the seventies, and when I came on board there were still some of those guys still around. They're still one or two. They're not all gone yet, but there's been a need over the last couple decades to really bring in some junior engineers, train them up, and some of these programs that we've been doing have been very good at doing that. If you have some work in a laboratory, some work doing integration of a weapon system in industry, that's where you really get your knowledge is by getting some hands on work. We also ran into some challenges as the Navy was scaling up to be able to handle multiple prototypes at one point in time and being able to find that workforce.

So we had to take multi-prong approaches. We went out to search for industry to support. We searched through academia for new hires, we went through our existing ranks within the laboratory environments and pulled in people that had relevant experience, or even people that just had a desire to learn and not relevant experience. It is a struggle and one where we will continue to work at. I suspect that's not uncommon for directed energy in today's day and age. Finding the right people for highly technical jobs is a challenge, so we look for opportunities.

One thing that comes to mind is several of the people we pulled in that time period actually came out of the electronic warfare community, so there was a pretty easy transition there and the language barrier wasn't as strong. In fact, it helped us to grow a little bit because most of them were coming from a war fighter perspective. So there's opportunities there to I think move back and forth across both communities as the need moves forward.

Ken Miller (33:02):
Last question for you. So we're early into the calendar year of 2023, but the fiscal year we're basically halfway through now, and unfortunately Congress didn't get that memo until late December. And in terms of passing the defense spending bill. So funding for FY23 is a little bit late, but the defense bill included a number of different funding initiatives across our capability area. One of the things that it included was 1.1 billion to overhaul test facilities, including for directed energy, and I wanted to just touch on this in terms of the role that testing has to play.

From your vantage point, when you look at this increase in testing, it sounds like, oh, 1.1 billion is a lot of money, but when you look at what it could be going to in terms of hypersonics, EMS, directed energy, space targeting, data management, all of a sudden 1.1 billion gets spread very thin quickly. But thinking of it from direct to energy perspective and test facilities and the testing infrastructure, what are some of the things that you think the directed energy community needs to focus on in terms of boosting or overhauling these test facilities or adding some much needed resource into improving the test capabilities in directed energy area?

Chris Barry (34:23):
Two strong things come to mind when you mentioned that, and there has been investment in each one over the last few years, but as we look at potentially fielding programs of record in the next couple years, it's going to become very important that we continue that investment and grow even faster. First one is the instrumentation. Instrumenting the effects or the measurable effects that you need to have on a direct energy weapon is not necessarily the same as any other kind of weapon we have out there. You can measure if something falls out of the sky, but to measure how much energy you have at a given range requires some pretty sophisticated technology and to back out what that really means to a target requires important modeling and simulation capability, and we've seen some investment over the years. The test management resource center has been doing a lot of work in that area.

The Center for Counter Measures in White Sands has been doing a lot of work in that area, but I think both those organizations saw some increased funding in this next year to continue that work and to dig a little deeper into it. The other area is just having range facilities that are cleared to do this sort of work. Right now, we have a few areas across the country that are comfortable and do directed energy work on a regular basis. They understand how to deconflict airspace and how to deconflict personnel and other things on the range. That's a handful of capabilities where we have hundreds of ranges we do live fire operations at.

Getting to the point where we have more opportunities to do live fire, directed energy capabilities can require a lot of manpower, a lot of effort, overhauling operating procedures at these events, a lot of time making the owners of those ranges comfortable with the risks associated in the mitigations we use to reduce those risks of operating direct energy weapons. Getting over those humps is another effort area that I think sounds a little bit more bureaucratic and probably isn't as flashy to a congressional ad, but is very important if we're going to be fielding capability en mass and training our war fighters to use that capability in the future.

Ken Miller (36:25):
Well, that's all the time that we have for today's episode. Chris, I want to thank you for joining me here on From The Crow's Nest. Always great to talk with you, and I hope to see you again soon at one of our conferences or one of Depp's conferences here in the spring, but thank you for joining me.

Chris Barry (36:38):
Thank you, Ken. I appreciate the opportunity to and look forward to seeing you again soon.

Ken Miller (36:43):
That will conclude this episode of From The Crow's Nest. I want to thank my guest, Chris Barry for joining me. Also, don't forget to review, share, and subscribe to this podcast. We always enjoy hearing from our listeners, so please take some time to let us know how we're doing. That's it for today. Again, you can follow me and the show on Twitter @FTCNHost. Thanks for listening.