The Pointy End of the Third Offset

Directed energy is well-positioned to be the “pointy end” of the Pentagon’s Third Offset strategy, Air Force Materiel Command chief Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski said Thursday. Speaking at the Directed Energy Summit hosted by Booz Allen Hamilton and the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment in Washington, D.C., Pawlikowski said building autonomous platforms and enabling operators to harness large amounts of data have been the focus of the new strategy. “You could do both of those, but if you do not have something that has the power and precision to then use once you’ve been able to do that autonomous operation or to integrate all that data, then you aren’t going to have a Third Offset,” she said. Directed energy, she said, can be the “end game of the Third Offset.” Pawlikowski, who described the difficulty of fielding powerful lasers earlier in her speech, said if the autonomous vehicles are able to get close to their targets, they won’t need powerful weapons to have an effect. “And if I can get the precision, I can minimize collateral damage,” she said. During his nomination hearing, Air Force Chief of Staff nominee Gen. David Goldfein said he would push the development of directed-energy technology if confirmed by the Senate.