Lt. Gen. Robert Rasch, head of the U.S. Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, said RCCTO will keep a 50-kilowatt laser weapon version of the service’s Stryker-based Short-Range Air Defense system, dubbed Directed Energy Maneuver-SHORAD, in the development phase longer than planned as the office continues to learn and mature the technology, Defense News reported Friday.
“We want to make sure when we actually transition a program or a capability that we mature not just the prototype from an operational capability but have a good competitive space and good manufacturability processes in place as well to make that PEO successful,” Rasch told the publication in an interview.
He said he expects the Directed Energy Maneuver-SHORAD system to become a program of record in fiscal year 2024 before the program executive office for missiles and space assumes responsibility for the effort in FY 2025.
Rasch noted that the Army intends to launch a competition before transitioning the program to the PEO “but those are still decisions ahead … where we kind of want to leave some decision space for Army senior leaders.”
He said the service intends to deliver the first batch of 50KW laser weapon-equipped Stryker vehicles to a unit of warfighters at Fort Sill in Oklahoma by the end of 2022.
“We’ll be getting those within the next month, month-and-a-half … so we are in final build and final integration … but we’re making sure our industry partners get it right before we give it to the soldiers,” Rasch added.