The US Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) has announced that it will start fielding its Stryker-mounted laser weapons next month.
RCCTO head Lt. Gen. Neil Thurgood said during a symposium that the first battery of the Directed Energy – Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense (DE M-SHORAD) would be delivered to a military facility in Oklahoma in the next 45 days.
DE M-SHORAD system is a 50-kilowatt laser weapon designed to shoot down enemy drones weighing up to 1,320 pounds (598 kilograms).
The laser can also engage and neutralize rockets, mortars, and artillery.
Thurgood said that the technique for firing the laser weapon is similar to firing a bullet from a gun.
“It’s just a bullet made out of light — that’s the only difference. The kill chain is the same,” he remarked, according to Breaking Defense.
DE M-SHORAD Program
News about mounting a laser weapon into a Stryker combat vehicle under the DE M-SHORAD program surfaced as early as 2016.
The program seeks to provide the service with next-generation capabilities to advance its multi-domain operations.
Last year, the Army tested its Stryker-mounted laser prototypes and trained its soldiers to operate the new defensive weapon.
“This is the first combat application of lasers for a maneuver element in the Army,” Thurgood said. “The technology we have today is ready. This is a gateway to the future.”
Another Laser-Mounting Project
Apart from integrating lasers into Stryker armored vehicles, the RCCTO revealed that it has recently launched a new project to mount a 20-kilowatt laser on an infantry squad vehicle.
Called the Army Multi-Purpose High Energy Laser, the program aims to better protect smaller infantry units from emerging threats.
However, the capabilities of the 20-kilowatt laser for AMP-HEL are reportedly more limited than the Stryker-mounted version, as it can only down drones weighing up to 55 pounds (25 kilograms).