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US Army 50 kW-class laser weapon mounted on 8x8 Stryker armored ready to be fielded in 2022

According to information published by the U.S. Army, the first mobile combat-capable weapon systems, 50 kilowatts (kW)-class lasers mounted on Stryker vehicles, is on track for operational fielding by Fiscal Year 2022.
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A MEHEL-equipped Stryker shot small fixed- and rotary-wing UAS out of the sky using a 5-kW fiber laser in April during MFIX-17 at Fort Sill, a first for the Army. (U.S. Army photo by C. Todd Lopez, Army News Service)

The DE-MSHORAD (Directed Energy-Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense) prototyping effort – as part of the U.S. Army’s larger modernization strategy for air and missile defense – is intended to help protect Divisions and Brigade Combat Teams from UAS (Unmanned Aerial System), Rotary-wing aircraft and RAM (Rocket, Artillery and Mortar) threats, and will be delivered to a platoon of four Strykers by Fiscal Year 2022.

Already, a unique U.S. Army-industry team is integrating two Strykers in Huntsville, Ala. with 50 kW-class laser weapon capabilities and support equipment. By spring, these Strykers will head to a combat shoot-off event at Fort Sill, Okla., where they’ll face a series of scenarios designed to test the system and establish threshold requirements for this class of laser. The result will lead to the competitive selection of one of the two laser systems for further prototype production, while also demonstrating for the first time that this laser technology is at a mature technical readiness level.

The initial DE-MSHORAD Other Transaction Authority (OTA) agreement was awarded to Kord Technologies in July 2019. Last month, the U.S. Army exercised an option on the OTA to purchase the additional DE-MSHORAD prototypes to be delivered by September 2022, for a total of four 50 kW-class laser Stryker vehicles. The industry team also includes Rocky Research for laser support equipment and General Dynamics for Stryker vehicle support.

The Stryker 8x8 armored vehicle fitted with 50 kilowatt-class was developed under the Multi-Mission High Energy Laser (MMHEL) program of the U.S. Army. The MEHEL is a system that permits experimentation and provides the soldier with hands-on experience operating a HEL mounted on a Stryker combat vehicle. It currently mounts a 5-kilowatt laser and was used in exercises in 2017, where it was able to defeat a number of small rotary and fixed-wing UAVs.

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