The US Department of Defense (DoD) has issued two contracts yesterday, 31 May, to adopt directed-energy weapon (DEW) systems for air defence and commit to funding pulsed laser research.

The first contract tasks the Alabama-based defence company, Kord Technologies, to develop, integrate, test and sustain directed-energy short-range air defence systems for the US Army.

Kord’s ‘Other Transaction Authority’ agreement – which gives the DoD flexibility to adopt business practices that reflect commercial industry standards –  is worth $158.1m.

The second contract awards the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics $14.9m to support the Missile Defence Agency’s (MDA) innovation, science and technology pulsed laser lethality investigations.

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The New York-based institution will explore the lethality modes and utility of pulsed lasers for the DoD services. To be completed by 31 May 2026, the models, simulations, and lethality toolsets developed shall support analysis against a variety of DoD threats across ground, sea, air and space domains.

DEW market

As concerns over the capabilities of peer-level adversaries continue to mount, the pressure to achieve and retain technological advantage continues to drive investment in this sector from a diverse range of military organisations.

GlobalData intelligence tells us that while there is a proliferated use of uncrewed aerial systems, drone swarming tactics and the introduction of hypersonic missiles, these new methods have led some observers to consider the potential of DEW as an effective countermeasure to these emerging technologies.

In terms of comparative total expenditure, the US accounts for the largest share of expenditure globally, with a market share of 41.6% ($1.5bn), followed by China and France with a share of 14.8% ($534m) and 13.9% ($501m), respectively.