The U.S. Army is close to deploying a platoon of four Stryker combat vehicles equipped with 50 kilowatt-class laser weapon prototypes in fiscal year 2022 after completing an assessment of the new directed-energy capability.
Marcia Holmes, the service’s deputy director of hypersonics, directed energy, space and rapid acquisition, said in a statement published Friday the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office and industry were able to develop and implement the first prototype of the Directed Energy Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense system within 24 months.
Holmes noted that the DE M-SHORAD laser system is meant to protect brigade combat teams and divisions from unmanned aerial systems, rockets, mortars, artillery and rotary and fixed-wing threats.
Col. Scott McLeod, DE M-SHORAD program manager, said the Army intends to demonstrate the capabilities of the weapon system in a joint and coalition exercise as part of Project Convergence 21.
"[PC 21] will be a big opportunity for us to show how we can integrate with our systems and demonstrate the capability against other threats," McLeod added.
The DE M-SHORAD development team demonstrated the capabilities of the prototype during a combat shoot-off at Fort Sill in Oklahoma in July. McLeod said program leaders collected user feedback and data to better improve the laser.
In August 2019, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman were selected to build competing laser prototypes for Strykers under an other transaction authority agreement that Kord Technologies secured from the Army.
Defense News cited sources that say Northrop has decided to drop out of the DE M-SHORAD competition after the company encountered a problem with the power and thermal management system prior to the shoot-off.