DOD's Space-Based Laser Program--Potential, Progress, and Problems

C-MASAD-82-10 Published: Feb 26, 1982. Publicly Released: Feb 26, 1982.
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The United States is pursuing directed-energy weapon technologies involving devices for generating and controlling laser, particle, and microwave beams which may revolutionize military strategy, tactics, and doctrine. Laser-weapon technology is the best understood and most mature of the three types of directed-energy weapon technologies. The Department of Defense (DOD) has been developing technology to demonstrate the feasibility of high-energy, laser-weapon systems for various tactical and strategic missions. One widely discussed laser-weapon concept involves a constellation of laser-weapon platforms in space which has the potential to provide a credible air and ballistic missile defense system for the United States. Due to recent interest by Congress and DOD, GAO reviewed the existing Space-Based Laser (SBL) program and assessed program progress, potential, and current management structure.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should: (1) establish a DOD Space-Based Laser (SBL) program plan containing clear and specific milestones and objectives which recognize the relative priority of SBL's within DOD; (2) commit the necessary funds to meet these objectives and to maintain stability of the program selected; and (3) establish a management structure to accomplish program objectives efficiently.
Closed – Not Implemented
The recommendation has been considered and discussed extensively during the fiscal year 1983 authorization and appropriations process.

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