Senators signaled their support for the Advanced Tactical Laser concept Tuesday during the vote on the 2010 defense spending bill when they agreed to an amendment that would set aside $5 million in RDT&E funding for the Air Force to expand evaluations and analyses. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), and Sen. Tom Udall (D-Utah) sponsored the legislation, which calls for USAF to carry out additional evaluations on a variety of targets and to work with an independent federally funded R&D center to review the feasibility of integrating a solid state laser system on B-1, C-130, and F-35 aircraft for use in a close air support role. In August, Boeing demonstrated the use of a high-energy chemical laser aboard a C-130 ATL demonstrator to strike a ground vehicle.
Unlike nearly every other innovative technology throughout history, Maj. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt believes the space enterprise emerged backward. “Every other domain started with an entrepreneur who built something,” Burt, the special assistant to the Chief of Space Operations, told an audience at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference.