The US Army announced the delivery of four Directed Energy Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense (DE M-SHORAD) prototypes to the 4th Battalion, 60th Air Defense Artillery Regiment (4-60th ADAR) at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
DE M-SHORAD is a 50-kilowatt laser weapon mountable on land vehicles. It leverages battery and thermal capabilities to fire beams invisible to the naked eye.
The system neutralizes aerial threats through electronic attack without explosions or loud noises, the army wrote.
Before the handover, the 4-60th ADAR trained in the fall of 2022 to familiarize themselves with the DE M-SHORAD.
Future operators practiced with a proxy M-SHORAD-integrated vehicle modified to replicate the DE M-SHORAD prototypes.
Simulations involved the attack structure or “kill chain” via the Virtual Crew Trainer Operating Systems provided by the army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO).
The 4-60th ADAR crew and DE M-SHORAD prototype team then conducted a live-fire trial in March 2023 at the Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.
“The delivery of DE M-SHORAD prototypes to the 4-60th ADAR represents a transformational milestone in the Army’s modernization campaign,” RCCTO DE M-SHORAD Project Manager Col. Steven Gutierrez stated.
“It is an achievement that adds what was often thought of as a next generation capability, now.”
“These high energy laser systems will be a game-changer on the contemporary battlefield, a critical component of an integrated, layered, and in-depth air missile defense for division and brigade maneuver formations.”
Additional Tests to Follow
After the delivery, 4-60th ADAR will conduct further training to operate the new laser weapon prototypes with DE M-SHORAD kinetic variants delivered in June 2023.
These preparations are expected to enhance directed energy applications supporting the army’s layered and integrated air missile defense structures and related division formations.
Some of the tests will be managed in collaboration with the Army Test and Evaluation Command to gain more insights into the prototypes’ functionality and limitations and ensure the systems’ employment by 2024.
“The Directed Energy Project Office took nascent technologies and accelerated their maturation and development to put hardware in the hands of Soldiers in record time,” Gutierrez said.
“This will prove to be a deterrent as well as an effective weapon system against relevant threat sets that requires minimal logistical support versus traditional and legacy systems.”