Fast and furious: the US Army tests its rapidly developed first laser weapon

By: | August 20th, 2021

DE M-SHORAD on a Stryker vehicle (Image courtesy: Jim Kendall/US Army)

After the invention of the laser in 1960, beam weapons became part of every science-fiction. But now laser weapons are set to become a critical battlefield technology.

In the latest development, the US Army recently tested Laser-powered weapons for the first time.

The US Army engaged defense contractor Kord Technologies to develop this laser-powered weapon. It took them less than 24 months to develop Manoeuvre Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) Directed Energy (DE) initiative or DE M-SHORAD.

High-energy laser weapon to shoot down drones

The Army plans to use the DE M-SHORAD against enemy drones, rockets, artillery, and mortars.

The high-energy laser-powered weapon was loaded on a Stryker combat vehicle and taken to Fort Sill, Oklahoma to test its capabilities.  

The Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) teamed up with the Air and Missile Defense Cross-Functional Team, and Fires Center of Excellence for the Combat Shoot Off. The shoot-off saw the two 50-kilowatt laser weapons in competition.

The combat shoot-off was performed under many realistic scenarios. The team also identified the features that could be incorporated into future versions.

The DE-MSHORAD system isn’t the only laser weapon the Army has. It already has 5kw laser systems aboard Stryker vehicles for the last few years. But with this 50-kilowatt trial, there will be a substantial increase in the power and lethality of the laser system.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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