WASHNGTON: After years of lower-power field tests and more than one thousand hours of soldier feedback, the Army is on track to field-test two different types of high-energy lasers in 2022: a 50-kilowatt weapon to destroy enemy drones and incoming artillery rockets, and a 300-kW weapon that could potentially shoot down cruise missiles.
Key components are now under construction for both systems, the directed energy chief at the Rapid Capabilities & Critical Technologies Office said. And, Craig Robin told me ahead of today’s Space & Missile Symposium, the service plans many more “soldier touch points” to come on both programs, especially once the prototypes are built and available for field tests.
Furthest along is the 50-kilowatt laser, to be mounted on an 8×8 Stryker armored vehicle. It’s known in Army jargon as DE-MSHORAD (Directed Energy – Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense). Four prototype laser Strykers – a full platoon – will be fielded to an actual combat unit in 2022.