An artist rendering of a notional endo-atmospheric interceptor for the European TWISTER project, as envisioned by missile-maker MBDA. (MBDA)

A note to readers: this is an old post on the archive website for Promethean PAC. It was written when we were known as LaRouche PAC, before changing our name to Promethean PAC in April 2024. You can find the latest daily news and updates on Additionally, Promethean PAC has a new website at

President Trump has recently pledged to build a missile shield against incoming missiles for the United States upon re-entering the White House in 2025.  The implications of this science driver for the economy as a whole and its implicit build out of the U.S. industrial and manufacturing base to the required frontier specifications are enormous.  We present here a background report by Brian Lantz as the inaugural piece in a discussion among scientists, engineers, machine tool designers and operators skilled tradesmen in these areas, space enthusiasts, young people, and just plain enthusiasts wishing to embrace this exciting challenge.  Look below once you read the introduction and research report for ways to join in this discussion.


The American people no longer support the “forever wars” which have plagued the world in the period between Franklin Roosevelt’s death and the ascension of Donald Trump to the presidency.

Notably, Trump's presidency was a period of peace in the world, before the present occupant of the White House announced a war against “autocrats” on behalf of “democracy.” Trump alone, in this election season, seeks to immediately end our cascading military conflicts.

A Strategic Defense Initiative

On March 23, 1983 in two truly memorable speeches, President Ronald Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative. He spoke first at the White House to a hastily-gathered group of high level defense officials and staff, and then to the American people (starting at 24 minutes, 29 seconds).

President Reagan thereby announced the launching -- and he said it might be a decades-long U.S. effort -- to build a comprehensive anti-ballistic missile defense system, and he offered to do so in cooperation with the Soviet Union. President Reagan also issued a clarion call to the U.S. scientific community, to turn their talents to developing strategic defensive systems that could render offensive nuclear weapons “impotent and obsolete.”

In doing so, President Reagan had adopted the proposal of Lyndon LaRouche to use science and technology to free the world from the culturally crippling, utopian Hell of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). On that day, economist and statesman Lyndon LaRouche was already at work, on behalf of President and the nation, in back channel negotiations with Soviet representatives on behalf of the SDI. To LaRouche, it was much more than a needed defense against Soviet ICBMs and prevention of nuclear war; it was to be a weapon to defeat the dangerous 'divide and conquer' strategic and economic policies of the imperial elites themselves.

President Trump's Defensive Shield: The SDI Revived

 In January, 2019, in a press conference releasing the Missile Defense Review 2019 of the Department of Defense, President Donald Trump confidently announced a new initiative, echoing President Reagan:

...we will protect the American people from all types of missile attacks. In the past, the United States lacked a comprehensive strategy for missile defense that extended beyond ballistic missiles.

Under our plan, that will change. The U.S. will now adjust its posture to also defend against any missile strikes, including cruise and hypersonic missiles...

Then again, in February, 2023, in his Agenda47 series of webcasts outlining his policies as the leading candidate to become the 47th President, Donald Trump renewed that intent. He now spoke as a seasoned veteran of the Presidency, and saw what Americans everywhere could see: the looming threat of global conflagration:

Under Joe Biden, the world has become vastly more dangerous—and there is no greater danger than the deadly menace of nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles.

Hypersonic missiles move at many times the speed of sound, and six times faster than current missiles. Armed with nuclear weapons, they could annihilate entire cities and even countries within minutes—and we cannot let this happen...

The best way to ensure that such a conflict never happens is to be prepared with unmatched technology and unrivaled strength...

Just as I rebuilt our military, especially our nuclear capabilities, I will build the shield to defend America from missile attack. We will have a peace through strength...

More recently, in early November, in speeches given in Florida, President Donald Trump again drew upon President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), pledging to meet the threat of civilizational war now stalking the planet. As President Trump is clearly drawing upon the outlines of his 2019 policies, it is clear that his bold initiatives portend a potential life-saving shift in America’s strategic and also economic doctrine. Witnessing the shortages of even basis military munitions today, it should be clear that a new SDI can succeed only if simultaneously engaging the nation in rebuilding the U.S. physical economy into that of a manufacturing and industrial superpower.

Much has changed in the 40 years since March 23, 1983, but the principles on which LaRouche based his concept of what became known as the Strategic Defense Initiative, are still relevant for solving today’s crisis. Now, the rubber must meet the road.

This paper reports on transformations of U.S. production methods now underway, driven by the perceived threat of deployed and potential Russian and Chinese military capabilities.

Specifically encompassed here is an overview of the production methods adopted to produce directed energy weapons (DEW) and hypersonic weapons at scale, and the accelerated effort to upgrade our existing missile intercept systems.  It concludes with a summary of ongoing work in DEW for area defense. We welcome your comments and expert contribution.

Building A Missile Shield

Since President Trump’s January, 2019 announcement, there have been waves of U.S. investment into a wide array of tactical and strategic directed energy weapons (DEW) systems and hypersonic weapons systems, sponsored by the various military services and the Department of Defense itself. It is, in total, a complex project ultimately integrated as a "7-layer" system of space sensors, trackers, radar, linking with ground- and space-based interceptors through a robust command and control system -- and it must all work as one, continually upgraded, system.

That said, in this paper the ongoing work to construct a space-based surveillance, tracking and transport system, to then cinque with command and control for launching missile interceptors, DEW, and potential hypersonic defense systems -- is not the focus. However, to briefly state a few important elements:

Image credit: U.S. Space Force


So this work has been underway.

Core Underlying Issues:

Increasing Labor Power & Energy-Flux Densities

The capacity to actually manufacture, for example DEW and hypersonic systems at scale, has therefore moved front-and-center. The now wide-spread exposure of the inability of the US and NATO to sustain production of munitions for the Ukraine conflict has only underscored the depth of the actual problem: the U.S. has lost its "surge capacity," in terms of production and skilled workforce.

In terms of national defense, this has been brought into focus the more broadly recognized (among specialists) “Valley of Death” separating prototypes from actual manufacturing at scale. The U.S. largely lost these "translational" or "transitional" problem-solving capacities in the course of the out-sourcing and the financialization of everything. South Korea and other Asian manufacturing nations have continually worked to successfully to avoid, or solve, this conundrum, as has Russia. They have done so through investment in targeted collaborative programs, including dedicated & staffed public-private facilities. In the U.S., the recognition of the "Valley of Death" issue is perhaps reaching critical mass.

This writer only states the obvious here: in terms of method, the systemic nature of these problems and their solution are laid bare by economist and statesman Lyndon LaRouche's science of physical economy. Advancing his concepts of increasing Labor Power and increasing Energy-Flux Densities are the built-in assumptions of this paper.

In the US aerospace-defense industry, about which the writer has otherwise written and discussed extensively, the current decline can be dated from 1991. This was only a delayed feature, following the November, 1989 collapse of the Berlin Wall, of the deeper, ongoing destruction of the U.S. physical economy through outsourcing and financialization (i.e. central banking monetarism) that can be dated back to 1971.

Then, as economist Lyndon LaRouche had warned, the end of the dollar gold-reserve, fixed exchange rate Bretton Woods System had, as a consequence, the de-coupling of the U.S. economy from its physical economic means of existence.

In 1993, following the fall of the Wall and aftermath, then Under-Secretary of Defense William Perry held his infamous "Last Super" with leaders of the aerospace industry. He made clear that defense spending was being slashed and with the "peace dividend" policy, begun under President H. W. Bush and bleeding over into the Clinton administration, the defense sector would have to consolidate. As a consequence, U.S. defense production capacity was slashed by one-third.

Wall Street and "The City" of London oversaw, and profited through mergers and acquisitions, the waves of consolidation that followed. "By the end of the 1990's, 107 firms had become five" -- today's oligopoly in aerospace-defense. See Pierre P. Chao's 2005 remarks, based on his C.S.I.S. report, for a review of that financial re- structuring of the aerospace/defense industry.

The consequences of this spreading "rot" is now upon us, and there is a scramble to catch-up. Russian and Chinese pose perceived, existential threats through their successful applications of new physical principles! LaRouche had earlier identified the Soviet's advanced science breakthroughs and associated R&D in beam weapons systems as the "Sputnik of the 1980's." Today we are being shocked into action by a new "Sputnik moment," by Russian and Chinese hypersonics, and their ongoing work in directed energy weapons. Bowing to Wall Street and "The City" of London, we brought this crisis on ourselves.

So the question is whether we muster the moral, cultural, productive, and scientific capacities within ourselves to confront and supersede the oligarchy's suppression of the American System, which has always based itself on scientific and technological advance. At the moment, recognition of this required, fundamental change can be perceived, midst very confused and contradictory mix of policies; at the moment, pressing national security requirements confront ingrained monetarist precepts, 'green' Malthusian ideology, and oligarchical power. It is a second, insurgent Trump presidency and MAGA movement, with LaRouchePAC's continued indispensable role, that are the unique political means for breakout.

One otherwise gains insight into this fight, and of the real issues-at-hand, by considering the following statements from a few, prescient U.S. corporate figures. These views clearly echo those of producers and Trumpers throughout the U.S.'s remaining productive sectors:

"China has moved into very advanced manufacturing, so you find in China the intersection of craftsman kind of skill, and sophisticated robotics and the computer science world. That intersection, which is very rare to find anywhere, that kind of skill, is very important to our business because of the precision and quality level that we like. The thing that most people focus on if they're a foreigner coming to China is the size of the market, and obviously it's the biggest market in the world in so many areas. But for us, the number one attraction is the quality of the people.... There's a confusion about China. The popular conception is that companies come to China because of low labor cost. I'm not sure what part of China they go to, but the truth is China stopped being the low-labor-cost country many years ago. And that is not the reason to come to China from a supply point of view. The reason is because of the skill, and the quantity of skill in one location and the type of skill it is... The products we do require really advanced tooling, and the precision that you have to have, the tooling and working with the materials that we do are state of the art. And the tooling skill is very deep here. In the U.S., you could have a meeting of tooling engineers and I'm not sure we could fill the room. In China, you could fill multiple football fields.     


The Lack of Translational or Transitional Investment:

"The Valley of Death"

A 2023 General Accounting Office (GAO) report (and a complementary Congressional Budget Office report) has highlighted a lack of transitional investment (or translational investment) as a crucial problem to overcome, regarding Directed Energy Weapon (DEW) programs in particular. This has much broader implications and, as this writer has emphasized on a number of occasions, is long overdue.

Despite significant investments in basic science, advances in technology, and enhanced knowledge in an array of fields, the U.S. has lost the ability to "translate" or "transition" these advances, even as developed prototypes, to manufacture. This is what Musk, Grove and others have spoken to. This is now a noted topic across many

U.S. economic sectors engaged in advanced manufacturing, including aerospace-defense. Under the threat of Russian and Chinese hypersonics and other battlefield developments -- and under the insane Biden collective's policies driving the world towards WWIII -- the necessity of overcoming the U.S. manufacturing "valley of death" is clearly perceived as existential by those who really concern themselves with our national security.


Perhaps, before going further, a clarifying note on what hypersonic weapons would be useful. First, compare hypersonics to ICBMs. ICBM's (and SLBM's) accelerate up to Mach 23, achieving speeds of between 15-20,000 MPH at mid-course, but are not considered "hypersonic weapons." ICBM's and SLBM's fly on a parabolic, gravity-driven trajectory through space towards their target, with no capability to change course.

With ICBM's and SLBM's there is therefore, via even "line-of-sight," the capability for radar to pick them up, the course trajectory calculated, and the missile targeted. Even so, these weapons are not simple to intercept.

It all gets a lot more complicated with hypersonic weapons.

The term “hypersonic weapon” is often misapplied. After all, ICBM's also go at "hypersonic speeds" but are not considered "hypersonic weapons."

Specifically, a hypersonic weapon refers to a missile that travels at sustained speeds at least five times the speed of sound in air (Mach 5 or above, in the atmosphere), spending most or all of its flight well-inside the Earth’s atmosphere (rather than in space), and having aerodynamic design features that allow it be highly maneuverable and fly close to the ground, evading ground radar. Russia and China have them, and Russia has deployed versions in the Ukraine conflict. The U.S. does not, despite early, fruitful research.

There are today two main categories of hypersonic weapons: hypersonic "glide vehicles" and hypersonic cruise missiles. They can be nuclear capable.

Hypersonic Weapons Systems

As of August, 2023 there are now five active U.S. hypersonic programs, between the U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy. However, currently: "There is no capability to produce hypersonics at scale today." So reports Chris Haynes of Northrup- Grumman.

This new thinking (and actually traditional) approach to manufacturing -- of thinking through production, including labor power questions, from soup to nuts -- is occurring with hypersonic weapons development in practice. The straight-forward security threat, of Russian and Chinese hypersonics, is driving sections of the US security establishment to scramble!

"In 2021, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) named hypersonic weapons and counter-hypersonic capabilities as the highest technical priorities for the nation’s security, say Raytheon Missiles & Defense personnel involved in one of the DOD projects. The Biden administration requested $7.2 billion for long range fires, including hypersonic missiles, in the 2023 defense budget. According to a 2021 report from the Government Accountability Office, the country’s 70 efforts related to hypersonic weapons are expected to cost nearly $15 billion between 2015 and 2024." [Emphasis added]

That budget estimate is being superceded. On March 3, 2023, 'Biden' brought the Defense Production Act into play -- the "Defense Production Act Title III Presidential Determination for Airbreathing Engines, Advanced Avionics Position Navigation and Guidance Systems, and Constituent Materials for Hypersonic Systems, March 3, 2023".

As of late November, the U.S. is attempting to field its first hypersonic weapon before the end of the 2023 calendar year. This would be the US Army (and Navy) Long Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW), which has had two test failures to date. The LRHW, after successful testing, is to first be deployed in batteries out of Ft. Lewis, WA, and then by the US Navy on naval warships in 2024-2025, and "Block V" submarines in 2029. This is the perspective at this moment. (The Army has plans to field four more LRHW batteries in fiscal 2025 and 2027.)

A U.S Army Soldier lifts the hydraulic launching system on the new Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) during Operation Thunderbolt Strike at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, March 3, 2023. During the LRHW system development, the Army’s Rapid Capabilities & Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) implemented a Soldier-centered design concept which uses formal and informal Soldier touch points to obtain early feedback to influence design, speed up development, and ensure an operationally effective weapon system. (Spc. Chandler Coats, U.S. Army)

The LRHW will deliver the maneuverable Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB), being simultaneously developed by Dynetics (Leidos).

This is where the U.S. stands, right now, in terms of the deployment of an offensive hypersonic missile.

Hypersonic Defensive Systems

In March 2018, as Breaking Defense reported, Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Director Lt. Gen. Samuel A. Greaves outlined the central challenge of defeating hypersonic weapons. "If you can't see it, you can't shoot it," he said. It was recognized that one could not built enough ground-based radars to detect hypersonics soon enough to intercept them. Greaves' point was that made tracking the threats from space necessary. At that time, the chief of Strategic Command, Gen. John Hyten, now retired, also came out in favor of space-based sensors, and has since promoted rapid development. The MDA has conducted a program over the intervening years to design and build such a network of space-based sensors, the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) program. The first tranche ("Tranche 0") has been launched on satellites in the course of 2023.

Those satellites will participate in flight tests and real-world threat collections throughout fiscal year 2024, as reported by the DOD.

Of course, one has to "detect, track and engage." We must develop the missiles (or Directed Energy Weapons - DEW) to defeat in-coming hypersonics.

A Prototype Hypersonic Interceptor Missile?

At this time, only the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) -- with Boeing as an initial "lead" initial contractor -- is reported to be working on a possible hypersonic interceptor missile. (This report touches on the status of strategic directed energy weapons -- such as lasers and particle beams -- further below.)

DARPA has a program called Glide Breaker, which “will develop critical component technology to support a lightweight vehicle designed for precise engagement of hypersonic threats at very long range.” DARPA requested $18 million for Glide Breaker in FY2023, up from its $7 million request and appropriation in FY2022. (Pages 11-12)

Boeing is now taking the lead in preliminary work on DARPA's Glide Breaker, reporting it as "a prototype hypersonic interceptor."

Until Then, Aegis...

In the meantime, the effort is to develop a non-hypersonic intercept, based on the Aegis-BMD[2] program, originally deployed at sea, is now being integrated with the utopian Prompt Global Strike in the Pacific against China. 

Specifically, the Aegis-SBT (Sea-based Terminal), deployed at lower altitudes than most 'blocks' of the Aegis-BMD program, as a second layer of ballistic missile defense for Navy ships and nearby areas, is now being promoted as the basis for an interceptor of hypersonic "Glide" vehicles.

On November 20, 2023, officials of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) in Dahlgren, VA, announced two multimillion-dollar orders last week for the Glide Phase Intercept (GPI) program, also based on Aegis-SBT (Sea-based Terminal). 

Missile-defense experts from Northrop Grumman Corp. and Raytheon Technologies Corp. (RTX) will continue to develop and refine their GPI concept during the technology development phase. The two companies have been working on defining GPI concepts since late 2021.

The Glide Phase Intercept (GPI) program "is to provide regional hypersonic missile defense by launching specially modified missiles from U.S. Navy surface warships that engage and destroy incoming hypersonic missiles as they glide through the boundary between space and Earth's atmosphere. Hypersonic missiles can reach speeds faster than Mach 5, which is nearly 4,000 miles per hour."

As well, Northrop is involved in developing the command & control and related systems.

Keep in mind that even existing ICBM's travel at up to Mach 23, but can be intercepted "conventionally." However, hypersonic missiles, traveling within the atmosphere, to then intercept on-coming, highly maneuverable hypersonic cruise missiles or glide vehicles, is another 'kettle of fish.'

The "Glide Phase Interceptor" program (as opposed to DARPA's Glide Breaker) is still based on existing capabilities, those of Aegis-SBT, and not at all proven to effectively defending against hypersonics. This becomes clear only by sifting through testimony.

Navy Vice Adm. Jon A. Hill, then-director of the Missile Defense Agency, testified in May, 2023 that, "Aegis-SBT is the only active defense available today to counter hypersonic missile threats," he said. Hill has since moved on to Lockheed-Martin.

In DOD reporting of Hill's testimony, the DOD write-up states that, "Aegis ships equipped with the sea-based terminal (Aegis-SBT) capability are said to be able to engage some hypersonic threats in the latter part of the missile's flight path, called the terminal phase. In order to expand the battlespace against hypersonic threats, the agency has initiated the Aegis Glide Phase Interceptor program. That program uses proven Aegis weapon system engage-on-remote network sensors to provide the depth of fire needed for terminal defenses, he said." 

In other, related, hypersonic defense developments:

Hypersonic Production: A transformation of approach underway

Hypersonic programs are coordinated out of the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. To field hypersonic systems:

* In August, Northrup-Grumman opened an entirely new facility in Elkton, Maryland - 60,00 square feet for starters and has 550 acres of land for further build - out. This 60,000-square-foot “Hypersonic Capability Center” (HCC) is designed to be “rapidly expandable” and reconfigurable to increase manufacturing capacity for the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM) and accommodate other DOD hypersonic projects. Northrop’s aim: to build hypersonic elements “at scale,” company officials have said.

It will specifically build scramjet engines for the Air Force’s Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM) program [3], as well as ramjets, warheads, and other components for future hypersonic systems. Northrop provides the air- breathing scramjet propulsion system and warheads for HACM to its prime contractor, Raytheon. The team won a cost-plus development contract for the weapon in September, 2022. The "initial asset" is expected circa 2027.

Northrup-Grumman has additionally been contracted in a 39-month effort to increase capacity for the production of high-and ultra-high temperature composites (U/HTC), as well as the modernization of capital equipment to support the scale-up of aeroshell production. This would be for hypersonic delivery vehicles.

"Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation will expand the domestic capability for producing U/HTC to support multiple components of hypersonic and strategic systems through the procurement of automated preform manufacturing equipment and high temperature furnaces.Through the $9.43 million dollar contract, the work will be conducted at Northrop Grumman's Elkton, Maryland facility and will expand the company's existing production processes to meet DoD performance specifications." 

The “Hypersonic Capability Center” (HCC), Northrup-Grumman's Chris Haynes stated, “is going to be a combination of modern equipment, as well as leveraging digital engineering techniques…We’re really trying to drive having engineers work side by side with operations, fully integrated on the floor. So as we’re making design decisions, we understand the implications of those decisions as it relates to… delivering weapons that are reliable, affordable and at scale,” Haynes said.

"Northrop provides HACM’s scramjet, solid rocket motors, and fusing capabilities, while Raytheon provides control actuation, forward section electronics, and endgame sensors," Haynes said. (The weapon will then be delivered out of Raytheon’s facilities in Tucson, Ariz.)

* Lockheed-Martin has likewise opened a new factory site for hypersonic production in Courtland, Alabama in October 2021, focused on "hypersonic strike production." Courtland is nearby the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL. Lockheed also has enhanced its facility in Grand Prairie, Texas to support multiple hypersonic programs. The Courtland, Alabama 65,000-square-foot Missile Assembly Building 4 (MAB4) "is more than a factory."

"MAB4 ...will incorporate some of our most advanced manufacturing capabilities from across Lockheed Martin including three mission-driven transformation priorities – connection to the Intelligent Factory Framework (IFF), a flexible factory construct to enable production agility and multiple products in the same space, and crucial technology insertions. Digitally linking to the IFF will help enable unprecedented insights into the health, status and optimization of operations.

"The skilled team that will be working at MAB4 will leverage cutting-edge technologies, including robotics, electronic foam boards, smart torque tools, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and model-based data consumption on the manufacturing floor feeding the digital thread."

*Raytheon, out of Arizona, is likewise engaged. The Standard Missile-6 IB (SM-6 IB), is the U.S. Navy’s program to modify the existing Standard Missile-6 IA, built by Raytheon Technologies, by integrating a new rocket booster that may allow it to fly at hypersonic speeds (at least Mach 5).

Lockheed, as with the other Big Five defense firms, reports that they are working with a network of universities to establish new curricula for future hypersonics professionals, develop partnerships with professors and students, and develop professional training tools for their current employees.

The Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) program - Huntsville, AL

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) of the DOD is headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama[4]. The MDA headquarters is said to hold “the largest concentration of missile defense engineers in the world.” In turn, the MDA oversees the parallel, Congressionally-backed, DOD effort to upgrade existing, U.S. ground-based intercept systems - the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System (GMD). The GMD is the primary U.S. missile defense system now used to defend the US from long-range ballistic missile attacks with missile interceptors. The Next Generation Interceptor program is the major new element of the DOD's Missile Defense Agency's evolving GMD, as announced by President Trump in 2019.

It is important to recognize the role of Huntsville, Alabama's Cumming’s Research Park, instigated in large part by Dr. Wernher von Braun. It is today the second largest research park in the nation, and the fourth largest in the world. It serves as a confluence of private corporations and smaller specialized companies supporting the Red Stone Arsenal, in turn drawing on specialized firms around the nation, for example Wisconsin's Hastreiter.

The Redstone Arsenal itself has more than 75 tenant agencies, while serving for over 50 years as the Army's center for missile and rocket programs. The Missile and Space Intelligence Center (MSIC), part of Defense Intelligence Agency, is also located at Redstone Arsenal. Redstone Arsenal also continues to host the Marshall Space Flight Center, NASA's field center for propulsion analysis and development.

Here again, there is a transformation of defense production methods underway, to overcome the long-term effect of Systems Analysis and effectively address the Valley of Death. Improving the existing Ground-based Midcourse Defense System (GMD) system is an immediate -- time-wise -- means through which defense of the U.S. homeland might be, at least in some part, addressed. Yes, the Next Generation Intercept (NGI), by itself, would reflect pragmatic, expedient thinking. However, it speaks to the very, very real threat to the homeland, as long as 'Biden' is controlling U.S. strategic policy! Keep in mind, this is a mad scramble that is going on, within even the "fishbowl" of DOD policy making, to respond to very real, perceived strategic threats.

For fiscal 2024, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), under the DOD, has a total budget of $10.9 billion. This budget prioritizes regional and homeland missile defense, including the building of an air and missile defense architecture in Guam. Last year, the agency asked for $9.6 billion, but received nearly $1 billion more from Congress.

Filling in the Valley of Death

In conjunction with the MDA and it's Next Generation Intercept program, here again Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman & Raytheon are building out large-scale, advanced manufacturing facilities, even as -- or before -- advanced prototyping has been completed. Lockheed, Northrop and Raytheon have simultaneously set up collaborative research and design centers in Alabama, near the Redstone Arsenal and as part of the enormous Huntsville Complex, which is headquartering the U.S. Missile Defense Agency as well.

  • Lockheed Martin broke ground in 2022 on a new $16.5 million, 25,000- square-foot Missile System Integration Lab in Huntsville in exclusively for the development of NGI.
  • Northrop has been building two large facilities as well, moving into, "a new campus, located just outside Gate 9 of Redstone Arsenal in the Rocket City.”
  • Raytheon is also part of this Huntsville build-out and a partner. 

Northrop-Grumman and Raytheon Missiles & Defense currently provide the interceptor booster, kill vehicle, ground systems, fire control and engagement coordination for the country’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense System (GMD) system.

Directed Energy Weapons (DEW) - Lasers

Directed Energy Weapons (DEW) cover a wide range of systems and billions of dollars (human and material resources) have poured into this area, with many failed programs -- and now successes. Here, a note on lasers as they might relate to potential future defensive use against hypersonics.

On July 31, 2023, Lockheed Martin made an announcement of their latest effort, scaling up to a 500 kW-class laser weapon, “the world's most powerful laser weapon,” surpassing their previous 300 kW-class laser in terms of applied energy-flux density.

A point made: "Their efficiency lies in beam control optics and sophisticated software algorithms that focus and direct the laser beam towards intended targets. By combining multiple kilowatt fiber lasers, these weapons produce precise and powerful beams, with adjustments."

According to some reports, Lockheed has delivered to the US Army its first such 500 KW laser system for initial testing. In addition to Lockheed, and often in collaboration, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, L3Harris, and Raytheon are some of the companies that have become heavily involved in related work, but almost all of this work -- at least what is publicly reported -- is oriented towards short range, battlefield use. 

It is generally surmised by those in the field, although this too is yet to be proven, that a 1000 kilowatt (one megawatt) laser would be needed to wipe out a hypersonic missile. Many questions remain. The power and cooling systems for sustained combat use; the ability to maintain the focus of lasers of a thousand kilometers; the adaption of the optics of solid state lasers to changing atmospheric conditions; and the ability to maintain the complex optics of lasers under war fighting conditions or in outer space, are some of the more obvious areas of work. Nonetheless, we are quickly getting to a testable, one megawatt laser.

Directed Energy Weapons (DEW) -- Particle-Beam Weapons

Again, the GAO report referenced earlier in this paper, is focused on the Valley of Death in the Air Force, Naval and Army work in DEW systems development.

However, it must be kept in mind that the authors of that report explicitly exclude particle-beam weapons systems from the study. This does not appear, to this writer, to reflect imposed "secrecy," or national security classification regarding particle beam weapons research. (Certainly this work is not occurring on the level of the now-six branches of the military services.) Rather, the exclusion of particle beam weapons development -- which would go directly to "new physical principles" in multiple ways -- appears to reflect the systemic and deadly grip of applied systems analysis and cost-benefit analysis on Western institutional thinking, of which economist Lyndon LaRouche warned decades ago.

LaRouchePAC's Kesha Rogers recently circulated an April, 2019 article reporting on the Missile Defense Agency’s then-aggressive perspective on particle beam weapons development, aiming for a systems development by 2023 and one capable of operating within the Earth’s atmosphere.

The requirements are not simple:

“...For the neutral particle beam to work, it will need to maintain a coherent beam over the 1,000 kilometers or so from low-earth orbit to the ground. Its power source needs to be able to hold that beam, but be light and small enough to be launched into orbit. And it will need to process real-time launch detection and tracking data from a constellation of moving satellites.”

In October of 2019, following up on President Trump's initiative, the US Air Force sponsored a major "workshop" titled, Directed Energy Futures 2060, examining scenarios and potentialities. Participants included the U.S. Naval Research Lab, Office of Naval Research, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Joint Intermediate Force Capabilities Office, other components of the Department of Defense, Los Alamos, Sandia and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, collaborators from industry, academia, and international partners affiliated with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

However, that same year, there were numerous public reports that the DOD had “shelved” particle beam efforts, at least for the time being.

Work in US National Science Laboratories has continued in this area, for a multitude of reasons including potential, non-military applications. A Fermi Lab 2022 development is one example.

DARPA in 2022 did publicly propose work, and sought bids, on a project to develop Muon beams for potential weapons, along with others uses - DARPA MuS2. (Muons are atomic particles similar to electrons, but are 207 times heavier.) A muon beam has the potential to help create new kinds of electromagnetic sensors to penetrate mountains and oceans, and help study the nature of matter and the universe. Muons are already utilized in a number of areas of scientific research. In October, 2023, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) made public that it is working with DARPA with a program called, Intense and Compact Muon Sources for Science and Security (ICMuS2).

What is underway, under the radar so to speak, is by definition not public.

Here it important to note that Lyndon LaRouche and President Ronald Reagan's 1983 SDI directive promoted a strategy of international cooperation in beam weapons development, whereby the development of such advanced weapons systems would render ICBM's and the like, "impotent and obsolete." This was their constant reference point. This was not to be.

Further, in the first Trump Presidency, similar optimist efforts, including the Artemis program, "to the Moon, Mars and Beyond" and Missile Shield initiatives were undercut by the orchestrated Covid pandemic and BLM/Antifa riots.

Unfortunately, none of the current efforts now underway in DEW and hypersonics is being promoted from that profound and original vantage point of the original SDI. That is, except through presidential candidate Trump and LaRouche PAC.

Tactical Use of Directed Energy Weapons

Directed energy weapons (DEW’s) encompass a significant part of the electromagnetic spectrum. These offensive and defensive systems include microwave, infrared, lasers, particle beams and neutral (neutron) beams. 

Following upon Trump’s 2019 initiative, there has been a profusion of conferences and DEW projects initiated through the federal government. Defensive and offensive; battlefield, naval and air; and strategic. The 40th anniversary of the SDI announcement has been the occasion of a number of events within the Beltway.

Scrambling to catch up with the Russian and Chinese hypersonic and directed energy weapons programs offensively and defensively, the approach since the 2018 Strategic Defense Policy and President Trump's January, 2019 announcement. has really been an across-the-board approach. With congressional support, there has been a mad scramble, an attempt being made to research, develop and apply "new physical principles" to any every domain on war fighting, from the battlefield to intercontinental offense & defense. This has also reached deep into academia. After all, these are new principles, and with the necessity of countering perceived strategic threats, time is short. In a phrase, to ‘throw it all against the wall and see what sticks.’

Pragmatically, with potentials for early deployment, has been HEL - high energy lasers, and HPM - high powered microwave systems, developed for Naval and Army battlefield use. These systems use energy flux densities that are roughly 200,000 times that of a laser power-point, and 150,000 times that of a household microwave. Undertaken under sponsorship of the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force military services, this kaleidoscope of projects can at best be only summarized here.

Consider though even just the tactical consequences of air defense systems which can shoot down incoming anti-ship missiles with beams of charged particles instead of with guns or missiles, or play a similar role on the battlefield. “Ammunition” supply would hardly be a consideration, although sustaining required levels of electrical power to these systems are. Aiming may no longer have to be as precise; and, as the GAO report on the Valley of Death itself points out, the organization of military task forces themselves might need to be fundamentally re-constituted. These are some of the "disruptive" implications of deployed directed energy weapons for the battlefield.

Area Defense

At the battlefield level, as in the Ukraine conflict, we see the wide use of “noise” and microwaves to jam communications, disable drones and blind radar from identifying targets. Russia’s Krasukha-4 targets airborne and air defense radars; Zhitel suppresses satellite signals; Leyer-3, is a cellular and radio communications jammer. Russian systems such as Zhitel and Pole-21 are effective in jamming GPS and other satellite links. These systems can disable drones that direct artillery fire and drones that carry out kamikaze attacks on Russian troops. Many of the NATO-supplied weapons are vulnerable to such jamming exactly because they use a GPS signal for navigation. (Russia announced in April 2021, that the Rezonans-N radar is capable of spotting hypersonic missiles and would be deployed in June of 2021.)

Now additionally coming into play, at the level of area defense, are lasers. Lasers are no longer a hypothetical in the battlefield domain.

For example, in Israel, there is the famous Iron Dome -- often cited by Trump -- of integrated radar and missile intercept systems, the Daniel’s Sling program. From 2011 to 2021, the United States contributed a total of US$1.6 billion to the Iron Dome defense system, with another US$1 billion approved by the US Congress in 2022. 

However, there is also now Israel’s Iron Beam system under development, which uses lasers to disable and bring down missiles at shorter ranges than the Iron Dome can operate. These systems have been possible with an extensive US defense company role. Raytheon (RTX) made the Iron Dome possible, working with Israel’s Rafael corporation.

HPM (Microwaves) and HEL (High Intensity Lasers)

The U.S. is developing, and moving to deploy a number of similar capabilities to that invoked in the Iron Beam system. Here are a few:

  • THOR is an experimental directed energy weapon, a high-power microwave counter-drone system, developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory over recent An April 5, 2023, demonstration at Kirkland Air Force Base, N.M., pitted THOR against a swarm of “numerous” drones. "THOR was exceptionally effective at disabling the swarm with its wide beam, high peak powers, and fast-moving gimbal to track and disable the targets,” said Adrian Lucero, THOR program manager, in the release.
  • PHASER -- RTX (Raytheon) has been developing its Phaser™ high-power microwave system. It uses directed energy to down drones—single ones or swarms—at the speed of “Operators focus a wide, arcing energy beam on drones that sends out a short, high-power burst of electromagnetic energy, destroying their electronics and dropping them simultaneously from the sky.” 
  • SHORAD, a 50-kilowatt laser weapon version of the Army’s Stryker-based Short-Range Air Defense system has been in development, and as of October, 2022, remained in the development phase to ensure it can be produced at This quote is revealing:

“We are going to keep [the Directed Energy Maneuver-SHORAD] system in [the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office] for a little while longer while we continue to learn and continue to mature,” Lt. Gen. Robert Rasch told Defense News.

“We want to make sure when we actually transition a program or a capability that we mature not just the prototype from an operational capability but have a good competitive space and good manufacturability processes in place as well to make that PEO successful."

As reported by Defense News, “Rasch said he is projecting the effort will become a program of record in fiscal 2024 and the PEO Missiles and Space would officially take it over in FY25. The original plan was to transfer the program in 2023.”

Here again, the urgent need for the capacity to actually manufacture DE (and hypersonic) weapons systems at-scale has moved front-and-center.


To build out the Strategic Defense Initiative, the entire U.S. manufacturing and industrial base must be rebuilt, in depth. A broad scientific and technological revolution in the U.S. physical economy of the United States will be both cause and consequence. For this, a return to the American System of Political Economy with a Third National Bank or equivalent for required financing -- and an informed, second Donald J. Trump Presidency -- is indispensable.

[1] The U.S. Space Force, as a new military branch, was established by President Trump as the sixth and newest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces in December, 2019 when the National Defense Authorization Act was signed into law. The push for a dedicated branch of the armed services devoted to the final frontier gained steam As the United States' critical infrastructure became increasingly dependent on satellites for communication, navigation, meteorology and intelligence, and it has been argued that orbital space has become increasingly crowded and contested, there was a consensus reached that there was a need for a branch of the military dedicated solely to operating and protecting these assets. The Space Force's mission statement, the service is responsible for "organizing, training, and equipping Guardians to conduct global space operations that enhance the way our joint and coalition forces fight, while also offering decision-makers military options to achieve national objectives." 

[2] AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense program (Aegis-BMD) is made up of three basic components: sensors, interceptors, and command and control. Aegis BMD was originally developed as the sea-based component of the overall U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). The various "blocks" of the Aegis-BMD program began being deployed on Naval ships in 2017, but then made operational on land ("Aegis Ashore") in Poland and Romania in the 2017 - 2021 period.

In turn, "[t]he Ballistic Missile Defense System, managed by the Missile Defense Agency, is an integrated, layered architecture that aims to provide multiple shot opportunities in the boost, mid- course, and terminal phases of the flight trajectory to destroy missiles and their warheads before they can reach their targets." More on the Missile Defense Agency, below.

[3] Regarding the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM): While the now-jettisoned ARRW program was a boost-glide type hypersonic system so large it would be carried on a bomber, HACM uses an air-breathing engine and is small enough to be carried by a fighter. The Air Force has apparently not released any imagery of HACM.)

[4] "The Missile Defense Agency is a research, development, and acquisition agency that works on ballistic missile defense systems for the United States and its allies. It is responsible for developing a layered defense against ballistic missiles." Currently there are 44 GBIs in the ground with the majority in silos at Fort Greely, Alaska, and the rest at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. The current interceptors aren’t equipped to counter a missile that could contain multiple kill vehicles or decoys that make the defeat process more complicated. Therefore, the NGI program. In addition, there are the Aegis SMD program with ships deployed at sea, as well as land-based systems provocatively deployed near Russia, in Romania and Poland.