Don’t expect directed energy weapons to suddenly transform America’s way of war anytime soon, said Frank Kendall, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics. “Directed energy is one of those technologies that’s always five years away, no matter how many years go by,” Kendall said Wednesday during a meeting with defense writers in Washington, D.C. That comment “isn’t entirely facetious,” he said. “In the 1980s, I was doing missile defense work for the Army, and at that time, we were talking about directed energy being a few years away,” he noted. While there have been “great advances” in DE technology, “there are still some steps to be taken before we have practical weapons,” said Kendall.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.