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Dr. Frank E. Peterkin

Principal Director for Directed Energy


Dr. Frank Peterkin serves as the Principal Director for Directed Energy in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD (R&E)).  In this role, Dr. Peterkin serves as the Department of Defense (DoD) Senior Official for Directed Energy, including High Energy Laser and High Power Microwave systems used for military applications.  He coordinates across a Department-wide portfolio of roughly $1.5B/year of investments with a technology-driven and mission-focused approach to provide Directed Energy capabilities that solve operational problems and ensure the U.S. maintains technical dominance against any adversary. 

Dr. Peterkin is responsible for monitoring and evaluating the current and planned Directed Energy programs of each of the military departments, implementing technical standards and system architectures, and addressing integration issues covering multiple war fighting domains.  As the DoD lead technical expert in Directed Energy, Dr. Peterkin works across DoD organizations and the Military Services to establish a long-term modernization plan and technology investment strategies to achieve National Defense Strategy objectives. He provides independent technical advice and guidance on interactions with Industry, Academia, other government agencies, and international partners to the OUSD (R&E) and other DoD leadership on all Directed Energy related topics and areas.   

Prior to joining OUSD (R&E), Dr. Peterkin served as a Navy civilian for more than 27 years. From 2017-2022 he was the Navy’s Senior Technologist for Directed Energy, a position in the Senior Professional cadre of the Federal Executive Service.  In that role, he was the Navy’s National and International leader in the development of technologies, applications, and systems for Directed Energy and related Electric Weapons like Electromagnetic Railgun.  He also served as the Directed Energy Portfolio Manager for the Office of Naval Research (ONR).  

From 2014-2017 Dr. Peterkin was the Electric Weapons Program Manager in the Air Warfare and Weapons Department at ONR.  In this capacity, Dr. Peterkin had oversight of Directed Energy and Electromagnetic Railgun activities and was responsible for the technical approaches of the largest prototyping projects in the Navy's Science and Technology Program. 

From 2009-2014 Dr. Peterkin headed the Directed Energy Warfare Office (DEWO) at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) in Dahlgren, VA.  As the DEWO director, he was responsible for developing the strategic focus and fostering growth of NSWCDD’s portfolio of activities in Directed Energy.  In this timeframe, Dr. Peterkin also served as the Technical Authority for Directed Energy in support of the Naval Sea Systems Command Engineering Directorate. 

After working as a Research Scientist at Old Dominion University, Dr. Peterkin started his career with the Navy at NSWCDD in 1995. His early activities as an engineer were focused on technologies and concepts supporting the development of High Power Microwave weapons, including development of multi-megavolt Marx-bank generators, high-voltage/high-rate capacitor charging power supplies, compact battery systems, and high peak power RF systems.  

Dr. Peterkin serves on numerous committees, panels, and working groups for Directed Energy topics and is an active participant in many professional and conference activities as part of the Directed Energy Professional Society. He previously served as the Chair and Technical Chair of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) International Pulsed Power Conference, as well as the Technical Chair and Treasurer of the IEEE Power Modulator Conference.  Dr. Peterkin has published more than 50 papers in journals and conference proceedings and holds five patents. 

Dr. Peterkin is DAWIA SPRDE - SE Level III certified and a member of the Defense Acquisition Corps.  He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  He was a National Merit Scholar as an undergraduate and completed his advanced degrees under a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship.

Dr. Peterkin has been recognized with numerous honors during his career, including the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award in 2018 and is a two-time recipient of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award (2007 and 2016).