Dr. Edward L. Wilkinson

Dr. Edward Wilkinson worked the first 17 years of his career in basic solid-state research as a research physicist. From 1965 to 1976, he performed research at the Physical Sciences Laboratory, U.S. Army Missile Command (USAMICOM), at Redstone Arsenal. This research included theoretical and experimental research in atomic photon and spin photon interactions with the crystalline field. His most notable experiments were in the area of microwave and optical spectroscopy at cryogenic temperatures. In his last 3 years at UASMICOM, he performed experiments in coherent optics in the areas of optical computers, holography, and laser signatures. He designed and developed a large optical facility to measure far-field laser radar cross section measurements. This facility is now recognized as a national asset.

In January 1977, he moved to the U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Advanced Technology Center, where he served as a research physicist responsible for exploring the technology development of directed energy weapons. His areas of responsibility covered both particle beams and high energy lasers.

In 1979, he was assigned to the Homing Overlay Experiment (HOE) as a project engineer, and in 1981, he became the program manager. This program, which was the basis for the Strategic Defense Initiative, achieved the first exoatmospheric “hit-to-kill” intercept of a reentry vehicle at the Kwajalein Missile Range in 1984.

For the next 2 years, Dr. Wilkinson served USASSDC in several capacities to transition the USASSDC to accomplish Strategic Defense Initiative program goals. As a chief engineer, he assisted in the formulations of all the major projects in USASSDC. Next he organized and initiated three new directorates – the Survivability, Lethality and Key Technologies Directorate, the Advanced Technology Directorate, and the Kinetic Energy Weapons Directorate.