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.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||1. 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.|