US Army tests laser weapons for first directed energy battalion.

Soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 60th Air Defence Artillery Regiment are positioned alongside four Directed Energy Manoeuvre-Short Range Air Defence (DE M-SHORAD) prototype systems. Photo: 4th Battalion, 60th Air Defence Artillery Regiment.

The four directed energy manoeuvre-short range air defence prototype systems were delivered to Fort Sill by the US Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office under the DE M-SHORAD Project Management Office.

Personnel have previously prepared for the laser weapon systems during training in 2022 using surrogate M-SHORAD vehicles designed to mimic the DE M-SHORAD prototype’s size, weight, and power; as well as completing a ‘kill chain’ attack using Virtual Crew Trainer Operating Systems equipment.

In addition, a successful live fire exercise was held between crews from 4-60th ADAR and the DE M-SHORAD prototype team in Arizona during March this year.

“The delivery of DE M-SHORAD prototypes to the 4-60th ADAR represents a transformational milestone in the Army’s modernisation campaign. It’s an achievement that adds what was often thought of as a next-generation capability, now,” according to Colonel Steven D Gutierrez, who leads the DE M-SHORAD office.

“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 defence for division and brigade manoeuvre formations.”

“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.”

The US Army plans to employ the prototypes in a Soldier Touchpoint in 2024 in partnership with the Army Test and Evaluation Command. The testing and feedback insight will allow soldiers to determine how tools and equipment under development will be used practically in the field.

“The delivery of the DE M-SHORAD prototypes marks an extraordinary advancement in our military capabilities,” according to former 4-60th ADAR battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Alex Corby.

“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.”

By: Robert Dougherty – Defence Connect


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