The U.S. Army has received the first four cutting-edge Directed Energy Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense, or DE M-SHORAD, prototype systems.
According to a recent Army press release, the 4th Battalion, 60th Air Defense Artillery Regiment at Fort Sill, has received the platoon of a new 50-kilowatt class laser weapon system on a Stryker vehicle.
The new laser air defense weapon system does not pull a trailer nor have a dedicated support vehicle. Everything needed is mounted on the one Stryker chassis, which gives it an agility advantage over older systems. Another key component of DE M-SHORAD is that it is more cost-effective than firing multiple high-dollar missiles at low-value targets.
This momentous delivery coincides with the historic reactivation of the 4-60th ADAR in March of 2022 and the subsequent reactivation of its Delta Battery in June of this year. It signifies the continued smooth transition of the 4-60th ADAR from the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command to the 1st Armored Division, which took place in November 2022.
To prepare for the integration of these groundbreaking laser weapon systems, 4-60th ADAR commenced training in fall 2022. Drivers underwent rigorous training utilizing a surrogate M-SHORAD vehicle specially constructed to replicate the DE M-SHORAD prototype’s size, weight, and power. Additionally, the crews skillfully simulated the execution of the structure of an attack or “kill chain” on the Virtual Crew Trainer Operating Systems provided by the RCCTO.
In March 2023 at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, crews from 4-60th ADAR and the DE M-SHORAD prototype team came together to conduct a highly successful capability demonstration during a Live Fire Exercise. The event showcased the remarkable potential of these prototypes and left a lasting impression on participants and viewers.
“The delivery of DE M-SHORAD prototypes to the 4-60th ADAR represents a transformational milestone in the Army’s modernization campaign. It is an achievement that adds what was often thought of as a next generation capability, now,” stated Col. Gutierrez. “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.”
Col. Gutierrez continued, “I couldn’t be prouder of our team. 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. 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.”
Receiving these groundbreaking systems enables the 4-60th ADAR Delta Battery to embark on collective training with kinetic variants of the DE M-SHORAD, as they were concurrently received in June 2023. This opportunity allows for enhanced evaluation of the integration and employment of these systems within the Army’s integrated and layered air missile defense architecture, as well as their structural alignment within division formations.
Lt. Col. Alex Corby, former 4-60th ADAR battalion commander, notes, “The delivery of the DE M-SHORAD prototypes marks an extraordinary advancement in our military capabilities. Today, Delta Battery etches its name in the annals of military history as the Army’s first-ever tactical Directed Energy capable unit. With cutting-edge technology at their disposal, they are pioneers, forging a path towards a more formidable and agile future for our forces.”
Looking ahead, in partnership with the Army Test and Evaluation Command, the Army plans to employ these prototypes in a Soldier Touchpoint in FY24. This assessment will provide invaluable insights into the capabilities and limitations of these cutting-edge systems, aiding the Army in its ongoing quest for innovation and progress.