White House recognizes hypersonics, directed energy as critical technologies

WASHINGTON — The White House has added five new technology areas to its list of critical and emerging technologies — including hypersonic capabilities, directed energy, renewable energy generation and storage, nuclear energy and financial technology.

The list of critical and emerging technologies, or CETs, was released Tuesday by the National Security Council and the National Science and Technology Council’s Fast Track Action Subcommittee on Critical and Emerging Technologies.

The update follows — and closely reflects — the key technologies included in the Pentagon’s new science and technology vision, which was signed Feb. 1 by Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu.

It also comes just days after top Pentagon leaders convened a meeting with defense industry executives to discuss the importance of moving quickly to field hypersonic technology.

The CET list is not meant to be a strategy but will inform a future strategy for U.S. technological competitiveness and national security, the report notes. It also serves as a resource to “promote U.S. technological leadership” and for cooperation with international allies.

Within each CET, the report highlights core technologies or subfields. Under hypersonic technologies, it identifies propulsion, aerodynamics and control, materials, defense, and detecting, tracking and control as key focus areas. For directed energy, those core technologies include lasers, high-power microwaves and particle beams.

Along with the additions to the list, the White House update eliminates several technologies included in the Trump administration’s 2020 National Critical and Emerging Tech Strategy. Those deletions include: Advanced conventional weapons technology; agricultural technology; chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear mitigation technologies, and distributed ledger technologies.

Courtney Albon is C4ISRNET’s space and emerging technology reporter. She previously covered the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force for Inside Defense.