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US Army Deploys Stryker-Mounted Laser Weapons to Middle East

The US Army has sent Stryker-mounted laser weapon prototypes to the Middle East to test their “real-world applicability.”

Four Directed Energy Maneuver Short Range Air Defense (DE M-SHORAD) prototypes recently arrived at US Central Command (CENTCOM) and have begun initial testing, according to Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James Mingus.

The systems, which feature the cutting-edge integration of 50-kilowatt lasers onto Stryker armored fighting vehicles, are designed to intercept and destroy class 1 to 3 drones, as well as incoming rockets, artillery, and mortars.

Despite the increasing drone threats to US troops in the Middle East, Mingus clarified that the laser weapons will not do live-fire tests yet as they will focus on operating in the dusty conditions of the region.

“Our high-energy lasers are so susceptible to weather. That’s why I think this is going to be a great laboratory because anytime there’s a dust storm, anytime there’s that kind of thing, it starts to alter the physics of the light particles that actually shoot that beam,” he told Breaking Defense.

‘Not 100 Percent Ready’

The deployment of DE M-SHORAD prototypes to the Middle East comes as the US military shifts to modern tactics to address emerging threats.

The attacks on US installations in Iraq and Syria, as well as the drone strike that killed three American troops in Jordan, have accelerated the push to field modern defensive weapons.

Despite its promising capabilities, Mingus said the laser weapon is still not 100 percent ready for combat operations.

“It’s a prototype, but we want to experiment in a live environment… Is it going to work perfectly? Probably not, but we’re going to learn from it,” he explained.

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