ARLINGTON, VA. --- Need to shoot down Daesh drones or Russian gunships? Boeing is offering the Army an array of ways to do it, from laser-armed 8×8 Strykers to missile-launching MATV trucks and tracked Bradleys.
This September, the Army plans a “shoot off” of competing anti-aircraft systems as it tries to rebuild battlefield air defenses it largely disbanded since 9/11. Boeing’s not the only contender, but it’s been the most aggressive in showing its wares. A new anti-aircraft Stryker will debut at next week’s Space & Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Ala., but that’s just one of several designs they’re prototyping.
The aerospace giant has worked with makers of military vehicles – Oshkosh for the MATV, General Dynamics for Stryker, BAE for Bradley — to integrate its weapons systems on their war machines in ways that give the Army multiple options.
M-ATV with anti-aircraft missiles
What the Army wants is Maneuver SHORAD: Short-Range Air Defense systems that can keep up with frontline combat units and survive in combat, unlike Patriot and THAAD batteries, which have longer range but are heavier and are not armored. It particularly wants Maneuver SHORAD it can afford, so installing existing weapons on existing vehicles is a lot more attractive than developing silver bullets from scratch. And, finally, the Army would love vehicles that can both carry SHORAD systems and still fulfill other roles, like troop transport.
Happily for the Army, Boeing and other companies have made laser weapons much more compact. You still need a dedicated vehicle for a 50- to 300-kilowatt weapon suitable for downing helicopters, airplanes, or (at the high end) cruise missiles, but 2- to 5-kW weapons with proven drone-killing capability can fit in existing combat vehicles. The 2 kW laser Stryker that starred in a recent Army exercise has room for several infantryman in back, but that’s a test configuration not optimized to be compact, Leary said: A properly integrated production model could fit a full nine-man squad, same as a regular Stryker. (end of excerpt)
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