The US Army has begun redeploying the Mobile Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) system after a hiatus of 13 years in its effort to modernize and adapt to an increasingly complex Integrated Air and Missile Defense environment, the army announced.
Four operational M-SHORAD Stryker vehicles, equipped with autocannon and missile launchers capable of firing Hellfire or Stinger missiles, have recently been delivered to Germany as the first batch. At least 144 anti-aircraft Strykers worth $1.2 billion are expected to be delivered by 2025.
The M-SHORAD Strykers will replace the Avenger Air Defense System, said to be weaker, slower, and more vulnerable.
“There’s really no comparison to anything I’ve operated in my career,” Air and Missile Defense crewmember Sgt. Andrew Veres said in a statement. “Everything in these systems is an improvement – the survivability, mobility, dependability, off road ability.”
The US initiated an upgrade in 2018 in response to the 2014 invasion of Ukraine. US Stinger missiles were seen as too expensive and inefficient to strike down cheap, small Russian drones that were sent to scout out targets for artillery barrages.
The US had discontinued development of its own mobile anti-aircraft units when it began focusing on threats such as roadside bombs and guerillas.
However, emerging threats from hostile countries and non-state actors beginning to deploy more advanced missile systems only emphasize the need for the US to work on its own shorter-range air defenses. Additional threats such as suicide drones, swarming technology, and small and medium-sized unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are also beginning to alarm US army officials.
“Our adversaries have invested heavily from their indirect fire up to their strategic missile assets, necessitating the modernization of our air and missile defense capabilities,” 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Commander Brig. Gen. Gregory Brady said.
“M-SHORAD is a critical part of the Army’s comprehensive dedicated Air Defense Artillery capacity and augmented combined arms approach to be able to provide a multi-layered defense against all aerial threats,” Brady added.
For added vehicle defense against small drones, mortars, artillery, and rockets, the US Army has also been developing high-energy lasers to complement the M-SHORAD system.