Fantasy has become reality. The US Army used a laser weapon for the first time against air targets and projectiles

At the end of July, the US Army used the first laser weapon in history at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, against medium and large-sized air targets and projectiles.

The product, built into the Stryker vehicle, is intended for anti-aircraft defense and has been verified by firing at targets of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAS), light missiles, artillery shells and rocket launchers (rockets, artillery and mortars – RAM).

“This is the first laser combat application of a maneuvering system in the U.S. Army,” said Lt. Gen. Neil Thurgood, Director of Supersonic, Power and Space Steering and Rapid Acquisition. “The technology we have today is ready. It is a gateway to the future.”

The project was launched 24 months ago

The project to build the DE M-SHORAD (Short-Range Maneuverable Directed Energy Air Defense) system was launched 24 months ago by the US Army, which on that date announced that it intended to be operational by 2022. The energy-based short-range air defense system.

DE M-SHORAD aims to provide protection to teams and brigades that resist UAS and RAM threats. The US Army’s Rapid Technology and Capabilities Office (RCCTO), which coordinated the entire prototype operation, will deliver a platoon of four laser-equipped Strikers by the end of 2022.

During the firing operations, the system encountered a series of realistic scenarios, designed to determine the desired characteristics of the future DE M-SHORAD systems.

Colonel C. Scott MacLeod, director of the DE M-SHORAD program at RCCTO: “It was an unprecedented effort.” “We are building and introducing a brand new capability. This is not a change or an update. It only took 24 months for the joint government and industry team to design, integrate and deliver a combat-ready capability to an operational environment.”

“This event represents a major milestone and an excellent example of rapid prototyping,” said Dr. Craig Rubin, deputy director of the Energy Department at RCCTO. “For the first time, we have a combat laser at our disposal, which produces effects against real threats.”

To address the laser weapons development project, RCCTO invites the Single Stakeholder Forum known as Octagon. This group consists of the following stakeholders: doctrine, organization, training, materials, leadership, staff, facilities, and policy. The group is working in parallel with the development of the prototype, ensuring that the items presented above are actually ready, when the prototypes are delivered.

The laser weapon is mounted on a Stryker armored fighting vehicle

“The scientific project on this technology is over. It is time to give our soldiers the first operational capability in history.”

Author’s comment: The laser weapon has a power of 50 kW and is mounted on a Stryker A1 armored fighting vehicle.

The average mass of artillery shells, which must be destroyed by this laser, is 60 kg, and their speed is 1000 m / s. UAV systems have low speeds, but have unpredictable trajectories, unlike projectiles whose trajectory can be predicted mathematically, as well as points in the trajectory confirmed by radar.

The US Army intends to deliver a more powerful 300 kW laser (IFPC-HEL – Indirect Fire Protection Capability – High Power Laser) by 2024, likely a version of the High Power Microwave (IFPC-HPM – Indirect). microwave), which neutralizes high-speed targets, the last part of the trajectory slopes steeply.

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