This is an excerpt from the introduction of my new book, War At The Speed Of Light.

As the US’ most capable potential adversaries deploy missile defenses that could threaten its advanced weapons systems, such as Ford-class aircraft carriers and B-2 stealth bombers, the US is developing countermeasures. Current countermeasures rely on anti-ballistic missile defense systems, such as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). These countermeasures primarily use missiles to destroy missiles, which is akin to using bullets to stop bullets.

Unfortunately, these countermeasures do not cover the complete threat spectrum. For example, THAAD is only effective against short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, not against intercontinental ballistic missiles. Also, the countermeasures can be an expensive deterrent. For example, in 2017, a US ally used a Patriot missile, priced at about three million dollars, to shoot down a small enemy quadcopter drone, available on Amazon for about two hundred dollars. Of course, the quadcopter drone had no chance against the Patriot, a radar-targeted missile more commonly used to shoot down enemy aircraft and ballistic missiles. The military terms this “overkill.” In theory, the enemy could order more of the two hundred dollar quadcopter drones from Amazon or eBay until they exhaust the US and its allies’ stock of Patriot missiles.

Given the expense of using missiles to counter enemy missiles and drones, along with their ineffectiveness across the entire threat spectrum, the US military is turning to laser and other directed energy weapons. While the price tag for hypersonic missiles continues to soar, approaching six hundred million per missile, the cost per laser pulse continues to drop, approaching about one dollar per shot. In addition, the US military feels that directed energy weapons will be effective against the entire threat spectrum, from intercontinental ballistic missiles to drone swarms.