News Briefings

DoD News Briefing

Thursday, June 8, 2000 - 1:30 p.m. EDT
Presenter: Rear Admiral Craig R. Quigley, USN, DASD PA


Q: I have a question about Tuesday's test of the tactical high-energy laser.

Rear Adm. Quigley: Yes?

Q: The test was successful in shooting down this Katyusha rocket. And it raises the question about why doesn't the United States have any plans to deploy this system to protect its troops if, in fact, it turns out to be an effective defense against short-range missiles and rockets like the Katyusha?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, are you talking about like a national missile defense system?

Q: No, I'm just talking about it as a -- the United States currently doesn't have any battlefield defenses that are equivalent to this, or any laser weapons.

Rear Adm. Quigley: Okay.

Q: This looks like it held some promise. Why wouldn't it be something that you would want to protect U.S. troops in the field, for instance, from these kind of rockets?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Right. Like I say, just to clarify for everyone's benefit, this is a relatively short-range system that was successfully tested, I think, two days ago -- right? -- a Katyusha rocket -- it was shot down at a testing range. Testing is still in the very early stages. I don't think we're ever in a position, or we certainly aren't now, to rule anything in or out. But at this point, I would say that we don't have a plan to procure that for our own use. We are pursuing other technologies that we would envision to be more appropriate for U.S. forces use, and something of a more mobile system that could be moved to various trouble spots around the world where you might find U.S. troops or other allied troops deployed. But nothing is ruled in or out at this point. All I can say is there are no current plans to procure that system for our use.


Q: I had a follow-up to Jamie's question. What can you tell us, Admiral, about this laser system? Is this something that has been developed here in the United States and will be sold to Israel or we will give Israel this technology, or -- or how's it going to work? That's the only place we have application for it presently, right?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I'm not sanguine on the technical details, but the program details are that this is a joint development program with Israel. It's just the U.S. and Israel. And it's about two-thirds of the cost is borne by the United States, one-third by Israel. And the testing has been done here. Some of the subcomponents and the elemental physics and the design have been done in both nations. But the testing program has been done here because of our range facilities. But I don't know the technical details of how the system actually operates, I'm sorry. I'm sure that we can get that for you, Bill, from the program office if that's of interest to you.

Q: Well, it would be of interest. I just wondered if this was similar to the Arrow program in that it --

Rear Adm. Quigley: Oh, no. Very different. Very different.

Q: Right. No, very different.

Rear Adm. Quigley: The Arrow's a missile; this is a laser.

Q: No, I mean as far as sharing of the development expense and then the deployment.

Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, typically when we enter into joint development programs with another nation or nations there is every -- there is some sharing of cost, level of effort, location of where the research and the construction and the testing are all done, but they tend to be unique in the set of circumstances that are presented to you. One nation will have this particular strength in its R&D community; another partner nation will have another strength there. So each and every one is very different from all the others. But each and every time there is some sharing of effort, of technology, of money, of use of facilities and people and things of that sort.

Q: All right, thank you.

Rear Adm. Quigley: Yes, ma'am.

Q: At which ranges are you testing this laser technology?

Rear Adm. Quigley: It's in the western part of the United States. And I don't --

Q: White Sands.

Rear Adm. Quigley: White Sands. White Sands. Which is in New Mexico. Very large facility, do a lot of testing out there.

Q: Thank you.

Rear Adm. Quigley: Okay. Thank you. And again, we'll take about a 10-minute break here, ladies and gentlemen, to reconfigure the room.