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US Army Plans to Mount Anti-Aircraft Lasers on Stryker Armored Vehicles

© REUTERS / Lehtikuva/Elias LahtinenUS army soldier and Stryker armored vehicle during "Arrow 16" mechanised exercise of the Finnish Army in collaboration with US Army Europe's 2nd Cavalry Regiment's Mechanized Infantry Company in Niinisalo, Finland (File)
US army soldier and Stryker armored vehicle during Arrow 16 mechanised exercise of the Finnish Army in collaboration with US Army Europe's 2nd Cavalry Regiment's Mechanized Infantry Company in Niinisalo, Finland (File) - Sputnik International
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By the end of fiscal year 2021, the US Army plans to equip a platoon of modified Stryker armored vehicles with defensive lasers that can shoot down drones as well as missiles and even mortar rounds.

During a webinar hosted by Defense News on Wednesday, Lt. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood, the US Army’s director of hypersonics, directed energy, space and rapid acquisition, said a platoon of Strykers would be fitted with 50-kilowatt lasers in the coming fiscal year.

The modified Strykers have been dubbed Interim Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense (IM-SHORAD), one of several systems being tested to fill the Pentagon’s short-range, anti-air defense gap. As Sputnik reported, Strykers armed with Stinger missiles and 30-millimeter autocannons are set to be tested in this role in live-fire drills in New Mexico later this month.

The Army signed a deal last August with Raytheon and Northrop Grumman to put 50-kilowatt lasers on four Stryker vehicles by 2022 at a cost of some $203 million. According to Northrop, the directed energy weapons will serve “as an effective complement to kinetic capabilities in countering rockets, artillery and mortars; unmanned aircraft systems; and other aerial threats.”

© Lockheed MartinLockheed Martin ATHENA
US Army Plans to Mount Anti-Aircraft Lasers on Stryker Armored Vehicles - Sputnik International
Lockheed Martin ATHENA

Since at least 2014, the Army has been chasing the idea of a drone-killing laser mounted on a wheeled vehicle. Raytheon was given $11 million that year to develop a 25-kilowatt laser for a Humvee, and the following year, the Army tested Lockheed Martin’s 30-kilowatt Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA) laser, mounted on a large truck.

Military.com noted the two lasers built by the firms will engage in a “competitive shoot-off,” with the winning company getting to mount its weapon on the Strykers.
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