Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
Fast-growing Albuquerque engineering firm Verus Research won a 10-year, $48 million defense contract to design effective methods to test and evaluate high powered microwave and other non-explosive weapons and systems.
It is the company’s largest contract since launching in 2014, said Verus managing director Hank Andrews.
The firm specializes in research and development of lasers, radio frequency communications like high-power microwaves, and nuclear engineering, with extensive modeling, simulation, testing and design work.
Under the new contract – awarded by the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation – Verus will work to improve the Department of Defense’s ability to measure the effectiveness of emerging non-kinetic weaponry. That includes microwave and other electro-magnetic, as well as nuclear, systems.
Verus will develop specialized sensors, instruments and diagnostics to track and confirm weapon performance for use at major range and test facilities.
“The defense world understands that there are more ways to affect adversaries than just blowing them up,” Andrews said. “This contract will help the DOD understand the outcome of non-kinetic technologies when applied to targets to see if they achieve the intended results.”
The contract reflects DOD efforts to integrate 21st Century weaponry, particularly “directed energy” systems like high-power lasers and microwaves, into battlefield operations.
New Mexico has emerged as a “center of excellence” in developing those systems, spearheaded by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base. That’s generating many contract opportunities for local engineering firms like Verus.
“It’s an indication of the evolution in how we conduct warfare,” Andrews said. “The non-kinetic element of this is crucial. The DOD is trying hard to not do unnecessary harm.”
Emerging directed energy systems enable warfighters to key in on targets and limit collateral damage by disabling but not blowing things up. DOD must assure the precision control needed to avoid unintended consequences.
“If you use electro-magnetic weapons against targets, you don’t want to actually black out an entire city,” Andrews said.
Verus has already received the first $13 million task order under the new contract, and more orders are being finalized now, Andrews said.
The company previously won a myriad of contracts with the DOD, with other federal agencies like NASA, and with private customers. Its revenue grew from just $77,000 in 2014 to $12 million last year, earning a top spot on this year’s Flying 40 list of fast-growing technology companies, which will appear in the Journal’s Business Outlook on Monday.
Verus now employs 87 people at four different Albuquerque facilities with a total of 41,000 square feet of space. That includes a new, 11,000-square-foot facility it opened in May near Kirtland that houses 20 individual offices and an electronics lab.