The US Army postpones the production of its Stryker DE M-SHORAD Guardian

With hypersonic weapons and advanced command and communication systems at the heart of the JDAC2 doctrine, directed energy weapons are today one of the main priorities of the Pentagon, and all of the American armies are committed to the development of several of these systems, whether high-energy lasers or microwave guns, both to protect ground troops and infrastructure, as well as combat ships and even aircraft. If the US Navy had long been at the forefront in this area, with the 60 Kw Helios system, the US Army has made a very significant effort in this area in recent years, by simultaneously developing 4 programs in this area : the C-sUAS jamming anti-drone rifle, the IPFS-HPM microwave cannon to counter drone swarms, the 300 Kw and more IFPC-HEL Valkyrie high-energy laser for infrastructure protection and the system mobile DE M-SHORAD Guardian for the protection of contact units, an autonomous 50 Kw laser mounted on a Stryker armored vehicle which provides power supply and implementation.

The Guardian's first operational trials began in mid-2021, and had, it seems, shown promising results, to the point that the US Army announced that the first test systems would be delivered as early as September 2022 to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in order to be tested by operational units. It must be said that expectations are high within US Army units for this type of system, which is particularly well suited to countering the threat of category 1, 2 or 3 light drones, but also stray ammunition and in a certain extent, mortar shells and rockets (we then speak of the C-RAM system for Cruise-Racket Artillery and Mortar), an area in which the US Army, like the vast majority of Western land forces, is particularly poorly endowed , and this despite the arrival in the units of the IM-SHORAD system also mounted on Stryker armored vehicles, and having a 30mm cannon as well as Stinger and Hellfire missiles to carry out this mission.

22Mar Stryker IM SHORAD Defense Analysis | Laser Weapons and Directed Energy | Air defense
The US Army has ordered 144 M-SHORAD systems to provide close anti-aircraft protection for its combat units awaiting the arrival of directed energy systems such as the Guardian (in main illustration)

While the industrial production of the Guardian was initially to be launched in 2023 for entry into service between 2024 and 2025, the US Army has decided to postpone the entry into service of this system by at least one year, in the words of Lieutenant General Rasch, commanding the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office. For the American officer, it is not a question here of an operational arbitration, the system having shown its efficiency and its reliability during the tests, but of ensuring that the industrial response around this program will be optimal, and that the commitments made by the service providers will be effectively respected, in terms of deadlines and costs. Obviously, the US Army intends to temporize the continuation of this program carried out at full speed, and having left on the low side the alternative industrial offers to that of Raytheon which develops the Guardian, while the other solutions had been discarded one after the other. the others when they encountered additional delays.

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