Air Force Chief of Staff nominee Gen. David Goldfein said Thursday he would push the development of directed-energy technology if confirmed. During his nomination before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Goldfein told lawmakers the technologies being researched at the service’s labs, including hypersonic engines and small satellites, are potential game changers. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) noted he would add directed energy to that list. “Amen,” responded Goldfein, who currently services as USAF vice chief of staff. He said he describes the use of directed-energy weapons as “silent sabotage.” “Right now, when I want to or when we we want to place fire power on the enemy, they and everyone else in the area knows we’re there,” he said. “What we need is a capability to create an effect and not have them know exactly where it came from or who. I think directed energy is going to provide that for us.” He noted the technology would be particularly useful for special operation forces, but it would have conventional applications as well. (Read Goldfein’s prepared testimony and his written responses to advance questions.)
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.