ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – During a visit to Boeing in Albuquerque today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and founder of the Congressional Directed Energy Caucus, announced a $17 million investment for the Department of Defense to acquire directed energy systems that support jobs and boost New Mexico as a center of excellence in this increasingly important space for our military.
Following the announcement, Senator Heinrich toured a directed energy lab facility at the University of New Mexico and met with researchers and students working in partnership with Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).
“With our state’s unique expertise in directed energy work, this funding will jumpstart the deployment of this critical technology and bring more high-paying jobs to the state,” said Senator Heinrich. “This is an area where New Mexico can make yet another significant contribution to our nation’s defense—and in the process, we can see millions of dollars of investment and many new jobs in our state.”
“This is an exciting time to be in the high-energy laser business,” said Ron Dauk, Boeing’s Albuquerque site leader. “Innovations by Boeing’s Directed Energy team in Albuquerque are on the leading edge of this technology, which can provide critical capability to help warfighters address current and future threats. We appreciate Senator Heinrich’s support for the development of directed energy across the state.”
“The School of Engineering at The University of New Mexico is proud to be one of the best programs in the country in this important and niche area of directed energy,” said Christos Christodoulou, Jim and Ellen King Dean of Engineering and Computing. “This specialty requires very sophisticated and dedicated equipment, and UNM is fortunate to have some of the best facilities and best researchers worldwide in directed energy.”
Directed energy technologies such as high energy laser and high power microwave systems have incredible potential for practical military uses. Senator Heinrich has worked over the last several years to increase funding and support for the development of directed energy. He has led efforts to transition directed energy weapon systems, developed in New Mexico by industry, national labs, and research facilities, to programs that help the United States and our allies maintain military superiority. He sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis on January 23, 2017, his first day as the head of the Pentagon, urging him and the Department of Defense to provide sufficient resources to accelerate the development of next generation weapon systems – specifically directed energy— toward acquisition programs of record.