Aerial Warfare

Northrop and Raytheon to Compete Stryker Vehicle High Energy Laser Initiative

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Northrop and Raytheon to Compete Stryker Vehicle High Energy Laser Initiative

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The U.S. Army will test 50-kilowatt directed-energy laser weapons built by Northrop Grumman and Raytheon from Stryker combat vehicles from the third quarter of fiscal 2021. This prototype will deliver 50 kilowatt (kW)-class lasers on a platoon of four Stryker vehicles in Fiscal Year 2022, supporting the Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) mission. The directed energy M-SHORAD capability is intended to protect maneuvering Brigade Combat Teams from unmanned aerial systems (UAS), rotary-wing aircraft, and rockets, artillery and mortar (RAM). In the operational construct, there is a mix of kinetic killers and directed-energy killers. The directed energy M-SHORAD prototypes are part of the progression of an Army technology maturation initiative known as the Multi-Mission High Energy Laser (MMHEL).

The U.S. Army’s Directed-Energy Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) will be firing lasers from vehicles starting next year. On July 26 last year, the service issued a contract award to accelerate the rapid prototyping and fielding of its first combat-capable laser weapon system. Northrop and Raytheon were both awarded Other Transaction Authority (OTA) agreement valued $203 million that includes Kord Technologies as the prime contractor. After the Army evaluates the results, it plans to purchase three additional laser-equipped Strykers, for a total of four prototype vehicles that would be fielded to an operational M-SHORAD platoon in Fiscal Year 2022. The OTA award has the potential to increase to $490 million for the delivery of the four prototypes.

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Under the initiative from the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office and a contract from Kord Technologies, Northrop Grumman will build and integrate a suite of advanced sensors; target acquisition and tracking; a 50-kilowatt class laser system; and battle-tested command-and-control on an Army Stryker combat vehicle. The effort will culminate in a competitive performance checkout leading into a range demonstration that informs M-SHORAD requirements. The directed energy M-SHORAD prototypes are part of the progression of an Army technology maturation initiative known as the Multi-Mission High Energy Laser (MMHEL). The M-SHORAD directed energy prototyping initiative is managed by the U.S. Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

A 5 kilowatt laser sits on a Stryker armored vehicles called the Mobile Expeditionary High Enegry Laser (MEHEL), during the Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment (MFIX) at Fort Sill, April 5. The Army just awarded a contract for 50kW prototypes.
A 5 kilowatt laser sits on a Stryker armored vehicles called the Mobile Expeditionary High Enegry Laser (MEHEL), during the Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment (MFIX) at Fort Sill, April 5 2019. The Army just awarded a contract for 50kW prototypes. (Monica K. Guthrie/ U.S. Army)

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