The 4 future air defense systems close to Directed Energy of the US Army

In many areas, such as long-range surface-to-air systems, anti-tank missiles, electronic warfare, and even artillery and armor, the US Army has seen its technological advantage inherited from the end of the Cold War. erode over years of intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, while other countries, especially Russia and China, methodically invested to catch up, and sometimes even overtake US technology. But there is one area in which the American armies have been able to invest in time and sufficiently to maintain a significant gap on their competitors, directed energy weapons, in particular to ensure close anti-aircraft protection of its units and major sites. These technologies are now reaching maturity, and the US Army plans to start deploying them on a massive scale between 2025 and 2027 to counter, among other things, emerging threats such as drones and swarms of drones, but also missiles, rockets and artillery and mortar shells, the range and precision of which have improved significantly in recent years.

To ensure this mission, the US Army has been developing, for several years, 4 new specialized systems capable of providing protection adapted to the threat: a mobile system, called DE M-SHORAD; a heavy system called IFPC-HEL; a heavy system specializing in the elimination of drone swarms called IFPC-HPM, and a set of light anti-drone systems C-sUAS. Each of these systems, by its power, its mobility and its interconnection capacities, will make it possible to respond to specific scenarios, by providing operational added value that the US Army considers decisive in the high intensity commitments that lie ahead. against adversaries endowed with advanced military and technological means.

The Stryker Guardian DE M-SHORAD

The first of these systems to enter service from 2025 will be the Guardian, designated by the acronym Direct Energy Mobile SHOrt Range Air Defense or DE M-SHORAD. It is a 50 Kw high-energy laser coupled to an aerial target detection and designation system, and embarked on an 8 × 8 Stryker armored vehicle, the workhorse of the US Brigade Combat Team. Army. With such power, the Guardian will be able to provide protection against category 1 and 2 aerial drones, that is to say drones of less than 30 kg operating at less than 3500 feet of altitude, but also, to a certain extent and with a sufficiently long exposure time, against drones of the 3rd category, which can reach 650 kg and evolve up to 18.000 feet of altitude, or 6 km, in which we find in particular the famous Turkish drone TB2 Bayraktar. It can also intercept RAM threats (Rocket, Artillery and Mortar shells) as long as they are not too fast or too massive. Finally, it can be used against helicopters, more to damage them than to destroy them.

The Stryker Guardian was tested by the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, or RCCTO, this summer at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

It should be noted that defense against planes and ballistic threats is not the responsibility of SHORAD systems in the US Army, this being devolved to heavy anti-aircraft systems like the Patriot, to light surface-to-air missiles like the Stinger, and the air superiority provided by the US Air Force, the system being limited by the energy production capacity on board the Stryker to maintain mobility consistent with the need for support for the forces. Like all of these new directed energy systems, the Guardian will be interconnected with the detection systems present in the theater of operations, in application of the Joint All-Domain doctrine at the heart of the engagement strategy. US in the years to come.

The Valkyrie IFPC-HEL system


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