MDACS program: the US Army is betting again on anti-aircraft artillery in 2025

Since the abandonment of the M247 Sergeant York at the end of the 70s, the US Army had never shown any interest in anti-aircraft artillery, initially focusing on all-missile defense, and for around ten years, on the development of directed energy weapons.

The MDACS program, integrated into the 2025 Armed Forces finance bill, therefore constitutes a profound development for it. Indeed, this concerns the design of a multi-domain anti-aircraft artillery system, intended to reinforce the protection offered by other systems, missiles, high-energy laser and microwave cannon.

So what is this surprise program from the US Army? What are its objectives, its specifications, and its timetable, given that the need for this type of system is growing, in all theaters of operation, from Ukraine to the Pacific, via the Red Sea and the Middle East?

The US Army's disenchantment with anti-aircraft artillery since the 60s

If, in many aspects, American and Soviet capability developments copied each other during the Cold War, this was not the case regarding anti-aircraft artillery.

Indeed, the US Army quickly lost interest in this capability, as soon as surface-to-air missiles such as the Hawk or the Chaparral had shown their effectiveness. It is true that, from a doctrinal point of view, air interdiction relied much more on air power within the American armies than the Soviet armies.

M247 Sergeant York Us Army
The M247 Sergeant York represented the US Army's final attempt to develop an anti-aircraft artillery system. Only 50 examples were built before being abandoned.

The last program launched across the Atlantic in this area was the M247 Sergeant York, an M-48 Patton tank mounted with a turret armed with a twin-tube 40 mm Bofors and a radar. Launched in 1978, it was to be a response to the Soviet ZSU-23-4, as well as the German Gepard, and to replace the inefficient M163 VADS and MIM-46 Chaparral.

Construction was, however, stopped after 50 examples, the US Army deciding to turn to the Franco-German Roland, and the new very short-range infantry missile Stinger, for close anti-aircraft defense missions. Medium and long-range air defense, meanwhile, was entrusted to the MIM-104 Patriot.

It was not until the second part of the 2010s that it launched the Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense or M-SHORAD program, an 8×8 Stryker armored vehicle mounted with a Leonardo turret armed with a 20 mm cannon, four Stinger and two Hellfire missiles.

The US Army urgently ordered 144 M-SHORAD, armed with a 20 mm cannon, 4 Stinger and 2 Hellfire, to reinforce the short-range anti-aircraft protection of American units.

Intended to replace the Avenger (a Humwee using 8 Stinger), the M-SHORAD was urgently ordered in 144 units to ensure close protection of engaged units, in particular against drones, helicopters and cruise missiles.

Since then, the US Army, like all American armies, seemed exclusively betting on directed energy weapons, high energy laser, microwave cannon, jammers, to complete the protection provided by missiles, against planes, helicopters, missiles, rockets and drones.

The mysterious MDACS anti-aircraft artillery program appeared in the 2025 budget request

Therefore, the appearance of the MDACS program, in the budgetary rocket transmitted by the US Army, as part of the preparation of the 2025 budget, is a real surprise. Indeed, MDACS is the acronym for Multi-Domain Artillery Cannon System, a program initially developed by the US Air Force Research Lab.

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  1. Isn't the EBRC Jaguar with its Paseo optronics and its cannon that can fire CTA 40mm airburst ideally suited to the task?
    We replace the MMP pod with Mistral and presto it makes a Shorad platform at a lower cost.
    Perhaps the vertical travel of the barrel is a little short on the other hand.


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