In 2022, the US Army will field test two high-energy lasers. A 50-kilowatt weapon to destroy enemy drones and incoming artillery rockets and a 300-kW weapon that could potentially shoot down cruise missiles. The US Navy has installed and tested 150 kilowatt lasers and will be testing 300-kilowatt lasers.
US Army’s Six Modernization Priorities
1. Long Range Precision Fires: long-range artillery/munitions and missiles.
Nextbigfuture has covered the new ramjets that will increase the range of artillery and missiles by five times and the new super long-range cannons that will have 1000 miles of range.
2. Next Generation of Combat Vehicles: M-2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle replacement and associated manned and unmanned ground combat systems.
3. Future Vertical Lift: replacements for current Army reconnaissance, utility, and attack helicopters and fixed-wing assets.
4. Army Network: command, control, communications, computers and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems.
5. Air and Missile Defense: systems to protect Army ground forces against a range of air and missile threats.
There are new 50 kilowatt, 150 kilowatt, 300 kilowatt and megawatt-class combat lasers being installed for the US Army, US Navy and the other branches of the US military.
6. Soldier Lethality: new individual and crew-served weapons, including night vision and other weapon target acquisition technologies.
Source: Statement by the Honorable Mark T. Esper Secretary of the Army and General Mark A. Milley Chief of Staff United States Army before the Senate Armed Services Committee First Session, 116th Congress on the Posture of the United States Army, March 26, 2019.
According to the Army, DE M-SHORAD (Directed Energy – Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense) is to consist of a 50 kW Laser Weapon System integrated onto a Stryker with onboard 360 degree radar and a secondary Independent Target Acquisition and Tracking System. With a crew of three, DE M-SHORAD’s primary target sets include Group 1-3 UAS rotary wing aircraft, and limited rocket artillery and mortars (RAM). The system is designed to maneuver with Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) and to be operational while on the move, stopping only briefly to fire if necessary. The Army has ordered four laser Strykers which is a platoon. By 2024, the Army plans to have four operational, 300 kW-class IFPC-HEL prototypes integrated on tactical vehicles to a platoon while initially demonstrating the 300 kW-class capability in FY22.
The 50-150 kilowatt combat lasers will be able to destroy drones out to 25 kilometers. Lasers with 300 kilowatts of power and beyond are needed to defend against cruise missiles.
If there are no problems the US Navy will push on to megawatt lasers.
SOURCES- Congressional Research Report, Breaking Defense
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.