WASHINGTON, D.C. — During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) received a commitment from Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering nominee Dr. Michael Griffin to implement and advance the directed energy weapons program. The $100 million program was established by Senator Heinrich and Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) under Section 215 of the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and is focused on getting directed energy weapons like high-energy-lasers and high-powered-microwaves out of the laboratories and into the hands of the warfighters.
Last year, Senator Heinrich led a bipartisan effort with industry, advocacy groups, and the military services to create the program and has worked over the last several years to increase funding and support for the development of directed energy weapons. Senator Heinrich has spearheaded efforts to transition directed energy weapon systems, many developed in New Mexico by industry, national labs, and research facilities, to programs-of-record that help the United States and our allies maintain their technical edge.
In today’s nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Dr. Griffin confirmed his support for directed energy weapons and said he would give it higher priority at the Pentagon. If confirmed, Dr. Griffin would serve as the nation’s first-ever Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, which is a position recently established by the Senate Armed Services Committee in the fiscal year 2017 NDAA. The Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, will serve as the Chief Technology Officer at the Pentagon responsible for overseeing all defense research and engineering, technology development and transition, prototyping, experimentation, and developmental testing.
Senator Heinrich met with Dr. Michael Griffin prior to his confirmation hearing this week. In the meeting and in questions submitted for the record, Senator Heinrich highlighted the critical importance of New Mexico for the Department of Defense’s research, development, testing and evaluation missions. Senator Heinrich advocated for the personnel and facilities at Air Force Research Laboratories and White Sands Missile Range and urged Dr. Griffin to modernize any aging research and testing facilities, and to take measures to expedite the hiring of recent graduates as well as the issuance of small business contracts.
Testimony, a list of witnesses, and the entire webcast of today's hearing will be availablehere.