JUST IN: Army On Track to Deliver Laser Weapon Prototype in 2022

By Mandy Mayfield
Laser-equipped Stryker

Army photo

The Army is getting closer to fielding its Directed Energy-Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense system, which will be mounted atop a Stryker infantry carrier vehicle, according to officials.

“Our DE-M SHORAD rapid prototyping effort is on track to deliver the Army's first combat-capable directed energy system — and it's a 50-kilowatt class laser — to protect divisions in brigade combat teams against unmanned aircraft systems, rotary- and fixed-wing threats, and rocket artillery and mortars,” said Marcia Holmes, deputy director of hypersonics, directed energy, space and rapid acquisition at the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office.

The service plans to provide a platoon with four prototype Stryker vehicles integrated with the lasers for delivery in fiscal year 2022, Holmes told reporters during a call Aug 18.

This summer, the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, in partnership with Army Futures Command's air-and-missile defense cross-functional team, Fires Center of Excellence, and Army Test and Evaluation Command, took a laser-equipped Stryker to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for a "shoot-off."

During the event, crews faced a number of realistic scenarios designed to flesh out the system’s desired design characteristics, said program manager Col. Scott McLeod.

“The combat shoot-off was a great success. Over the duration of the event … the soldiers were trained to safely operate the system and negotiate scenarios using a crawl, walk, run training approach,” he told reporters during the call. “As part of this approach, soldiers utilized cutting edge, state-of-the-art immersive training technologies to quickly familiarize themselves with the DE-M SHORAD weapons system. Within days, the soldiers were operating the system, demonstrating proficiency.”

During the shoot-off, the team collected data that will help the service further refine the capability, he noted.

Holmes added that the Army is working to maintain its expedited project schedule through rapid prototyping with the understanding that the first iteration may not be the “absolute perfect solution.”

“We tailor our acquisition and our risk acceptance practices accordingly to meet those accelerated timelines,” she said. “Our goal really is to deliver prototypes that soldiers can use as the mission requires, that are safe and that the Army can leverage as a baseline for a program of record.”

Topics: Army News

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