Dr. Chris Lloyd, High Energy Laser Lethality lead at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD), is often called upon to meet and brief senior Department of Defense leaders; government officials; military leaders from nations such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan; U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen; and high school students about high energy laser weapon lethality testing, modeling, and simulation conducted at the NSWCDD Laser Lethality and Development Laboratory to support the current and growing number of Navy laser weapon programs.
Lloyd – recognized across the directed energy community as a principal subject matter expert in the area of laser lethality – leads an accomplished HEL lethality team that he credits with efforts that have been key in igniting exponential growth in Navy and DoD laser weapon development efforts over the past decade.
“The dedication of our team is second to none and that has shown through the years and through all the successes,” said Lloyd. “I believe that two of the most important traits that we can possess or strive to possess are leadership and inspiration. The way we carry ourselves, the interactions and relationships we have with people personally and professionally define who we are and become.”
As the lead for the Navy's portfolio of laser lethality efforts, Lloyd defines who he is while successfully spearheading the High Energy Laser Lethality Portfolio within the Directed Energy technical area across a broad range of stakeholders, both nationally and internationally.
“Being a former Marine, which I can attribute much of my personality and desire to succeed, followed by graduate school where I studied chemistry, my path to NSWC Dahlgren and ultimately my current position could be considered by most as unorthodox,” said Lloyd. “However, I've always believed that who you meet along the way, whether they be drill instructors, professors or friends, has such a great impact on who you become as a person.”
Lloyd, while grateful to all who positively impacted his life and career, specifically credits his parents, a Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant, and a former boss with forging his character with values and wisdom resulting in successful relationships and achievements as a Marine Corps sergeant and government civilian scientist. "My parents guided and supported me throughout life and always reminding me to be humble and respectful," said Lloyd. "Marine Gunnery Sgt. Gary Morris was my first staff non-commissioned officer who taught me to always be confident in what I do and say and never stop challenging yourself." Lloyd also credits Dr. Bob Cozzens - his graduate advisor and mentor over the course of nine years at the Naval Research Laboratory – for providing numerous outreach opportunities that enabled Lloyd to meet and brief various stakeholders while building expertise in effective communications.
“My career advice to others is to never stop challenging yourselves, be confident in what you do, embrace what you learn and become an expert in it to put yourself in a position to lead others who will come after, and meet as many people as you can along the way because you never know how they may impact your own life,” said Lloyd. “Most of our jobs take us outside the walls of NSWC Dahlgren, take advantage of that and build collaborative relationships any time you can.”
Lloyd’s collaboration and relationships with Dahlgren’s various partners such as the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Office of Naval Research, Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems, the Air Force, Army, and various joint organizations including the Joint Directed Energy Transition Office has resulted in the development and execution of a wide span of programmatic initiatives.
Understanding the lethality that lasers bring to the fight is a critical aspect in developing effective Laser Weapon Systems. Over many years, Lloyd and his team developed and executed a strategy that allows the weapon developers to understand laser interactions and lethality against various materials, system components and ultimately all up threats. His strategy has enabled the community to better understand laser system performance via rigorous test and modeling and simulation of various types of target materials. At the same time, his Dahlgren lethality team developed methods for testing against critical sub-components which has improved the understanding of laser lethality against complex targets such as surface craft and unmanned aerial vehicles. Continuing this strategy, Lloyd and his team has laid out a plan to understand the lethality required to defeat additional threats such as anti-ship cruise missiles.
Executing these types of tests and experiments requires specialized facilities and a highly trained workforce. Under Lloyd's leadership, Dahlgren has developed significant resident capability that allows much of the testing to be executed in house. Even the lethality testing that is not executed in house is led by Lloyd and his team, under most circumstances in joint environments at other facilities.