Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The US Army's 4 future directed energy close air defense devices

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Faced with the proliferation of drones and precision munitions, light or not, the US Army has opted for directed energy armies, with four key programs ranging from high-energy lasers to microwave cannons, including portable electromagnetic jamming systems.

In many areas, such as long-range surface-to-air systems, anti-tank missiles, electronic warfare and even artillery and armor, the US Army has seen its technological advantage inherited from the end of the Cold War eroded over the years of intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, while other countries, particularly Russia and China, methodically invested to catch up, and sometimes even surpass US technology.

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But there is one area in which the American armies have been able to invest in time and sufficiently to maintain a significant gap over their competitors, directed energy weapons, in particular to ensure close anti-aircraft protection of its units and major sites.

These technologies are now reaching maturity, and the US Army plans to begin deploying them massively between 2025 and 2027 to counter, among other things, emerging threats such as drones and swarms of drones, but also missiles, rockets and shells. artillery and mortar whose range and precision have progressed very significantly in recent years.

To ensure this mission, the US Army has been developing, for several years, 4 new specialized systems, capable of providing protection adapted to the threat: a mobile system, called DE M-SHORAD, a heavy system called IFPC-HEL , a heavy system specialized in eliminating drone swarms called IFPC-HPM, and a set of light anti-drone systems C-sUAS.

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Each of these systems, through its power, mobility and interconnection capabilities, will make it possible to respond to specific scenarios, providing operational added value that the US Army considers decisive in the high-intensity engagements that lie ahead. against adversaries equipped with advanced military and technological means.

M-SHORAD’s Stryker Guardian

The first of these systems to enter service from 2025 will be the Guardian, designated by the acronym Direct Energy Mobile SHOrt Range Air Defense or DE M-SHORAD . It is a 50 kW high energy laser coupled to an aerial target detection and designation system and mounted on an 8×8 Stryker armored vehicle, the workhorse of the US Army's Brigade Combat Team. .

With such power, the Guardian will be able to provide protection against category 1 and 2 aerial drones, that is to say drones weighing less than 30 kg operating at less than 3,500 feet altitude, but also, in a certain extent and with a sufficiently long exposure time, against 3rd category drones, which can reach 650 kg and operate at an altitude of up to 18,000 feet, or 6 km, in which we find in particular the famous Turkish drone TB2 Bayraktar.

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It will also be able to intercept RAM threats (Rocket, Artillery and Mortar shells) as long as they are not too fast or too massive. Finally, it can be used against helicopters, more to damage them than to destroy them.

M-SHORAD's Stryker Guardian directed energy system features a 50 KW laser
The Stryker Guardian was tested by the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, or RCCTO, this summer at Fort Sill in Oklahoma.

It should be noted that defense against aircraft and ballistic threats is not the responsibility of SHORAD systems in the US Army, this being devolved to heavy anti-aircraft systems like the Patriot, to light surface-to-air missiles like the Stinger, and the air superiority provided by the US Air Force, the system being limited by the energy production capacity on board the Stryker to maintain mobility consistent with the need to support the forces.

Like all of these new directed energy systems, the Guardian will be interconnected with the detection systems present in the theater of operation, in application of the Joint All-Domain doctrine at the heart of the engagement strategy. US in the years to come.

The Valkyrie IFPC-HEL directed energy system

In order to increase the power of its directed energy weapons, so as to extend their performance and protection capabilities, the US Army relied on modules in containers transportable by truck.

The Valkyrie is one of two systems based on this model belonging to the Indirect Fire Protection Capability program, or IFPC, and using a high energy laser or High Energy Laser, giving the acronym IFPC-HEL.


LOGO meta defense 70 Laser weapons and directed energy | Anti-aircraft defense | UNITED STATES

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