US Army is one step closer to delivering laser weapons to US soldiers

According to information released by the Facebook account of the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army Acquisition, Logistics & Technology, the U.S. Army is one step closer to delivering laser weapons to U.S soldiers with the recent arrival of two Stryker vehicles in Huntsville, Ala. The government-industry team is integrating directed energy capabilities onto the platforms, in preparation for the RCCTO Directed Energy - Maneuver Short Range Air Defense (DE-MSHORAD) combat shoot-off next year.
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The U.S. Army has delivered Stryker armored vehicles to integrate direct energy laser weapons. (Picture source Facebook account Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army Acquisition, Logistics & Technology)

According to a report released by the Congressional Research Service, The U.S. Army defines Short-Range Air Defense (SHORAD) as dedicated air defense artillery (ADA) and non-dedicated air defense capabilities that enable movement and maneuver by destroying, neutralizing or deterring low altitude air threats to defend critical fixed and semi-fixed assets and maneuver forces.

The use of unmanned aerial systems (UASs) by both state and non-state actors has increased exponentially, and UASs have been used successfully by both sides in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict. Fixed-wing aircraft, attack helicopters, and cruise missiles also continue to pose a significant threat to U.S. ground forces, as do rockets, artillery, and mortars (RAM).

Recognizing ground force vulnerability to these threats, the Army has embarked on an effort to revitalize and update its SHORAD forces and associated systems. In terms of SHORAD systems modernization, the U.S. Army is developing a Maneuver SHORAD (M-SHORAD) system based on existing SHORAD capabilities and concurrently developing a directed-energy version (DE) M-SHORAD.

The DE-MSHORAD will protect U.S. Army Divisions and Brigade Combat Teams from unmanned aerial systems, rotary-wing aircraft, and rocket, artillery, and mortar threats.

According to information released by U.S. Army in August 2020, the U.S. Army is working on fielding a Directed Energy-Maneuver Short Range Air Defense capability, or DE-MSHORAD, to the platoon level by fiscal 2022. The new capability will provide brigade combat teams with a 50-kilowatt laser aboard a Stryker combat vehicle in support of air defense artillery operations.

For the U.S. Army, the DE M-SHORAD will consist of 50 kW Laser Weapon System integrated onto a Stryker 8x8 armored vehicle with onboard 360-degree radar and a secondary Independent Target Acquisition and Tracking System. With a crew of three, DE M-SHORAD’s primary target sets include Group 1-3 UAS (from 9 to 600 kg), rotary-wing aircraft, and limited rocket artillery and mortars (RAM). The system is designed to maneuver with U.S Army Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) and to be operational while on the move, stopping only briefly to fire if necessary.

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