The US Army will field 50 kilowatt (kW)-class lasers on a platoon of four Stryker vehicles in 2022. They will support the Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) mission. The directed energy M-SHORAD capability is intended to protect maneuvering Brigade Combat Teams from unmanned aerial systems (UAS), rotary-wing aircraft, and rockets, artillery and mortar (RAM).
In May 2019, the Army approved a new strategy for accelerating the rapid prototyping and fielding of a variety of directed energy weapons to enable Army modernization.
Two laser vendors have about one year to produce the required laser subsystems, integrate them onto the Stryker platform, and complete a competitive performance checkout leading into a range demonstration against various threats.
If the results are good the US Army will buy three additional laser-equipped Strykers, for a total of four prototype vehicles that would be fielded to an operational M-SHORAD platoon in Fiscal Year 2022. The OTA award has the potential to increase to $490 million for the delivery of the four prototypes.
Under the new directed energy strategy, the Army is leveraging progress made in that effort in order to merge the HEL-TVD with Navy laser programs.
The Army and Navy will work to get 250-300 kW-class lasers around 2024. The more powerful lasers will defend against missiles and drones. The Army’s goal is to deliver four 250-300KW prototype lasers integrated on tactical vehicles, for a capability known as High Energy Laser-Indirect Fire Protection Capability (HEL-IFPC), to a platoon by Fiscal Year 2024.
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