RSS feed LinkedIn Watch us on Youtube

Activity title

Directed Energy Weapons Concepts and Employment

Activity Reference



System Analysis and Studies

Security Classification




Activity type


Start date


End date



Acquisition, Capability Development, Concept Development, Deployment, Directed Energy Weapons, Employment, Utility


Directed Energy Weapons (DEW) technologies have reached a high level of readiness and have already demonstrated significant performance as potential force multipliers in various military applications. DEW as an emerging technology has been the subject of the 2012 NATO-SCI-227. This study provided NATO with an overview and scope of the technological capabilities of DEW in the context of a land, air and maritime environment and according to the NATO mission categories, in terms of present, near, mid and far term timelines. SCI-227 clearly showed that DEW may offer new possibilities of employment in military and security operations. Several SCI groups have been involved with technology maturation of High Power Microwaves (HPM), such as SCI-132/198, SCI-232/249, SCI-250 and SCI-294 (on-going). SCI-264 is the first group involved with High Energy Laser (HEL) and its impact on the shared battlefield. However, no activity has yet been defined to explore how all defence Lines of Development should be shaped to enable nations to fully exploit the DEW capability. Hence, NATO and Nations benefit from an enhanced understanding on how to evolve DEW technology into an integrated military capability.


The overall purpose is to provide analytical and operational inputs for a future DEW concept of employment encompassing all defence Lines of Development (such as covered by DOTMLPFI)1. Note that DEW include both HEL and HPM technologies. To that end, the following scientific objectives are pursued: 1. Provide insight in the expected ability of DEW capability to accomplish military goals (exploit). 2. Provide insight in shaping the DOTMLPFI needed to make the DEW capability available (prepare). 3. Share DEW effectiveness assessment methods and metrics. 4. Liaise with the NATO community. The expected knowledge products from this activity are: a. A comparative analysis of the ability to complete the kill chain using DEW compared with the use of conventional weapons. This is done with a representative set of use cases / vignettes set in the 2025 timeframe and set in the 2035 timeframe. Kill chain development will include parametric analysis where sensitive DEW and conventional weapon lethality performance preclude shared datasets. b. An Implementation Handbook covering all defence Lines of Development (DOTMLPFI). Input is provided by an analysis of the impact DEW attributes have on DOTMLPFI. c. A Handbook covering methods and metrics with significance to the assessment of DEW. The Handbook will address benefits, drawbacks and limitations to support Nations wishing to perform their own analysis on DEW applications in specific settings. d. A series of events to engage and inform DEW stakeholders. e. A contribution to NATO DEW community building, including the possibility of cross-panel Workshops.


This activity includes the creation of use cases / vignettes able to support this activity. This is followed by a use case synthesis identifying the main operational drivers whereby an operational commander may choose between DEW and conventional weapons. Additional inputs stem from an analysis into the ability to complete the kill chain using war gaming, experimentation and parametric analysis tools. Key issues with regards to kill chain completion are addressed as focus topics (e.g. impact of man-in-the-loop). This activity includes the identification and characterization of impacts (positive and negative) DEW have on DOTMLPFI, followed by ways to mitigate / exploit these weapons. Key issues with regards to the impacts are addressed as focus topics (e.g. course of action synthesis) and in stakeholder consultations events.

Contact Panel Office