The US Army tests the Stryker DE M-SHORAD armed with a 50 Kw laser

Directed energy weapons, such as hypersonic weapons, constitute two absolute technological priorities for the American armies in recent years in an attempt to pick up on the technological dynamics imposed by Beijing and Moscow. While hypersonic programs encounter problems, US Army, US Navy and US Air Force programs for the short-term implementation of anti-drone, anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems based on Directed energy weapons advance in accordance with the very ambitious planning imposed by the Pentagon. Thus, last week, the US Army announced that a first engagement test "in combat situation" had been carried out earlier in the summer at the Fort Sill site in Oklahoma, with the joint use of two new Stryker armored vehicles each equipped with a 50 kW laser system.

The objective of these tests, which they seem to have satisfied the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO), and the Air and Missile Defense Cross Functional Team, validated the use of the Directed Energy-Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense, or DE M-SHORAD, against different types of threats including Rockets, Artillery shells and Mortier, conventionally grouped under the acronym RAM. These successes allow the RCCTO to maintain the objective of delivering 4 DE M-SHORADs in 2022 in the form of a protection squad intended to validate its operational use, but also to define the training protocols for the personnel who will be in charge of implement them. Recall that at the same time, the US Army is also developing a second program called Indirect Fires Protection Capability - High Energy Laser (IFPC-HEL) composed of a 300 Kw laser mounted on a truck, whose mission will be to intercept cruise missiles. , but also helicopters and heavy ammunition, by 2024.

The DE M-SHORAD Stryker during testing at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Notice the heat exchange systems that line the vehicle and say a lot about its infrared radiation.

The achievement achieved around the DE M-SHORAD program by the RCCTO is remarkable in more than one way. Not only did they manage to get on a cramped vehicle like the Stryker a 50 Kw laser, 10 times more powerful than the previously tested model which could only take on light drones, but they also managed to solve the thorny problem of the energy supply in a vehicle at the very least cramped, and not intended for that, and this in a record stint of only 24 months. The US Air Force is not left out, since it started a few weeks ago wind tunnel tests of the pod accommodating a laser of "several tens of kilowatt" at the Aerodynamics Branch of Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) test center at Arnold Air Force Base in Tennessee. This system, known as Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator, or SHiELD, aims to produce a Hard-Kill laser-type self-defense Pod for fighters like the F-15, in order to intercept and destroy surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles targeting the aircraft.

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