October 25, 2016

Udall: Kirtland Advancing Military’s '3rd Offset Strategy' with Directed Energy, Other Cutting-Edge Technology

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - This month, U.S. Senator Tom Udall visited Kirtland Air Force Base and the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) to get an update on work to advance the Counter-Electronics High Powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) and other leading technological developments being developed at Kirtland to disable enemy infrastructure without causing collateral damage to civilians. These and other technologies being developed in New Mexico may offer solutions for the Department of Defense's "Third Offset Strategy," which is working to combine public and private efforts to widen the technological gap between the United States and our adversaries.

Udall, a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, believes that New Mexico can play a strong role in the Third Offset Strategy and is urging the Defense Department to rely on the expertise and experience at Kirtland and the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), as well as New Mexico's other military bases, national labs, and high tech companies. As part of that effort, Udall and Senator Martin Heinrich last month wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, asking him to consider opening a "Defense Innovation Unit Experimental" (DIUx) office in New Mexico.

"Kirtland is on the cutting edge of directed energy and other new technologies that will revolutionize the way U.S. forces accomplish their mission by increasing efficiencies while decreasing risks to civilian life. I'm proud to support these investments in our national security as a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee," Udall said after the visit. "These are just two examples of how this critical technology being developed in New Mexico will directly benefit the war fighters and civilians and help keep our nation safe. Advances in defense technology - such as aviation, computer networking, and mobile communications - have a long track record of spurring progress on the civilian side and benefitting our economy and our day-to-day lives."

During his visit, Udall got a briefing on CHAMP - an alternative to explosives that would enable the military to disable adversaries' electronics systems with little or no collateral damage - and discussed the next steps for its development. On the Appropriations Committee, Udall worked to secure an additional $10 million for CHAMP in the most recent defense funding bill, which is pending in the Senate. The additional $10 million will allow the AFRL to continue to develop, test, build and field a prototype of a counter-electronics high powered microwave weapons.

While at Kirtland, Udall was briefed at the 58th Special Operations Wing and toured the "Monster Garage" where airmen are repurposing outdated aircraft to be used by new Air Force personnel for training in flights and search and rescue. This saves the Defense Department considerable money and is now a national model for other bases across the country. Udall also experienced the CV-22 simulator, the tilt wing helicopter, used to train new pilots. New trainees receive 100 hours in the simulator and there are considerable cost savings as a result.

Finally, Udall received an update on the cleanup of the bulk fuel leak. "I'm encouraged that significant progress has been made in the past year. I heard about some innovative approaches that have increased the effectiveness of the cleanup and saved time and money while reducing the impact in the affected communities," Udall said. "Protecting the community's water is a critical public health issue, and I'm continuing to monitor the spill and consult with Air Force officials, our local water utility experts, and community members. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I will fight to ensure that all available resources are used to stay on budget and schedule."