The U.S. Air Force is running a war game simulation to test state-of-the-art fighter-mounted laser and kinetic energy weapons systems. Known as the Direct Energy and Kinetic Energy Direct Energy Utility Concept Experiment (aka DEKE DEUCE), the Air Force research laboratory war game simulation was designed to determine the effectiveness of advanced laser weapons systems in modern air combat, especially when combined with conventional kinetic warfare. After these successful tests, the military branch appears to be moving closer to actual deployment.

Artist presentation of high energy laser with integrated optical-dazzler and surveillance (HELIOS) system at work. (Image: Lockheed Martin)

The development of laser weapons systems is on the rise

Lasers are an integral part of science fiction, but they are not yet part of the battlefield of the 21st century. The Air Force and the US Navy have been testing laser systems since the 1970s, but none of the larger systems have been deployed in the field.

Debrief The U.S. Navy recently reported on a laser system that successfully flew a simulated surface drone out of the water. The Navy recently tested another high-powered laser system that successfully shot down winged drones, quadcopters and even simulated ballistic missiles.

Now, the Air Force is bringing their laser systems closer to actual deployment, a move that could have a lasting effect on modern air combat warfare.

The Air Force combines battle simulation lasers with kinetic weapons

According to a press release, the integrated laser and kinetic weapons system test took place in February at Kirkland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

DEKE DEUCE explains that the combined use of DE and KE systems is related to a series of virtual glossaries exploring mission sets for pilots, weapons systems officers and air combat managers. Pod and two dynamic concepts of the future.

The primary laser system tested in February was a Tactical Airborne Laser Weapons System (TALWS) designed by Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin’s video demonstrates the effectiveness of this type of system against a wide range of aerial weapons.

The Air Force is testing the effectiveness of their Self-Protected High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHIELD) system. As you can see, these 300kW laser rockets and missiles are powerful enough to launch directly from the sky.

Based on the positive results of the latest simulation conducted in February, both laser systems show a great deal of promise. It is likely to move towards actual in-field deployment. Of course, the deployment of any laser weapon system will not immediately replace traditional kinetic weapons but will play a complementary role.

“DEKE DEUCE has given warlords a great opportunity to put our kinetic weapons concept in front of warfighters,” said Rusty Coleman, the unit’s technical advisor to the modeling and simulation team. “It simply came to our notice then. The pilots literally gave us feedback beyond what we could get from any other place. “

Captain Scott Seidenberger, Air Battle Manager, coach of the 552nd Air Control Wing at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, who participated in his third DEUCE, agreed with Coleman’s assessment.


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“DUCE events, from the operator’s point of view, are highlighting the need for creative and quick fixes to the evolving problem set created by our opponents,” he said. “Threats are faster, more agile, and vary in numbers and capabilities. The use of guided energy, manufactured munitions, and artificial intelligence will be critical to the development of the measures necessary to sustain our edge in an age of strategic competition.”

According to Col. Matthew Crowell, the officer who led the team of five pilots literally operating the laser-equipped aircraft, this testing and simulation process is important to help integrate new systems, such as lasers, into the Air Force’s arsenal.

“Experiments like DEKE DEUCE allow for significant collaboration between combatants and developers of our future capabilities,” Crowell said. “It provided a wonderful opportunity for both communities to learn from each other and put our Air Force ahead of our peers with the help of technology.”

Air force lasers are coming to the battlefield near you

The Air Force and other U.S. armed forces have yet to provide a definite timeline for the deployment of their advanced laser weapons systems. However, given the growing need for directed energy weapons to deal with drone swarms, hypersonic missiles and other evolving threats, this is likely to happen soon.

“There is an urgent need to rapidly develop and integrate both DE and KE viable next-generation weapons in response to the growing capabilities and offensive objectives from our enemies,” he said. Said Darl Lewis, lead researcher at DEUCE Lead and Wargaming. “This DEUCE focused on identifying capacity and joint integration gaps that could be addressed through the systems under consideration, as well as potential future maneuvers and processes.”

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