WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and founder of the Congressional Directed Energy Caucus, helped secure $16.7 million for the rapid production and procurement of the Department of Defense’s first-ever directed energy weapon system to be fielded to U.S. troops in an operational environment. Recently, ISIS has been loading explosives on drones that are being used to kill Iraqi Security Forces and are endangering U.S. forces. The funding, which is in the defense portion of the 2017 fiscal year spending bill that Congress will vote on this week, will procure five high-energy-laser weapon systems to protect forward operating bases from enemy drones.
“Hundreds of New Mexicans are employed in the directed energy field and are making major contributions to our national defense. With this announcement, they will be contributing directly to the fight against ISIS,” said Sen. Heinrich. “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 New Mexico. I have been pushing the Department of Defense to deploy directed energy for years and on Secretary Mattis’ first day I urged him to finally provide our armed forces with the advantage it provides over our adversaries. Now we are finally doing it and creating great New Mexico jobs as well.”
Senator Heinrich 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.
In March, Senator Heinrich delivered a keynote address at the Directed Energy Summit in Washington, D.C. highlighting his commitment to invest in directed energy technology.