The US Army’s new Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) Stryker have made their first exercise debut in Europe during the Saber Strike 22 maneuver in Rutja, Estonia. On exercise Saber Strike 22, M-SHORAD systems helped the the US Army Europe and Africa Command validate operational reach along NATO’s eastern flank. Held every two years, Saber Strike 22 began on February 28 and ran through March 18. The training event is scheduled during winter to demonstrate the ability to operate in austere conditions. The exercise included approximately 13,000 participants from 13 nations, with exercise activities occurring across the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia.
This is the first time the four M-SHORADs have taken part in an international exercise after 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment (5-4 ADA). The 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery is comprise of five battery-level units. The 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery was constituted on October 16, 2018 and its headquarters is located on Shipton Kaserne, Ansbach, Germany. 5-4 ADA, a subordinate unit under the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, is the first battalion in the Army to test, receive, and field the new M-SHORAD, which is replacing aging Avenger short range air defense systems. The 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command is US Army Europe and Africa’s executive agent for all theater air and missile defense operations and force management.
The U.S. Army used a rapid prototyping strategy to accelerate the timeline for M-SHORAD initial operating capability by four years, resulting in the delivery of a prototype system in approximately one year. In 2020, 18 air and missile defense crewmembers from 5-4 ADA were selected to undergo a 6-month initial operational assessment with the prototype systems at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. The fielding of the new M-SHORAD was not without problems, however, as the service had to tackle software issues with integrating the weapons systems onto the Stryker. The COVID-19 pandemic also put a dent in the testing schedule. 5-4 ADA was the Army’s first SHORAD battalion activated in almost 13 years. 5-4 ADA will receive an additional 32 systems later in FY22-FY23.
The M-SHORAD, which integrates existing guns, missiles, rockets and sensors onto a Stryker A1 vehicle, is the Army’s newest addition in a variety of modernization efforts. The system is designed to defend maneuvering forces against unmanned aircraft systems, rotary-wing and residual fixed-wing threats. Future development of follow-on M-SHORAD systems will incorporate technology insertions, to include directed energy and improved missiles, utilizing a mix of complementary DE and kinetic interceptor systems to protect maneuver forces. The addition of the Stryker-based M-SHORAD system will provide better protection of maneuver forces at increased ranges and with improved mobility, allowing a stronger defense of U.S. forces, Allies and partners against adversary air threats.