Laser M-SHORAD works against mortars in Army test

By Ethan Sterenfeld / May 17, 2022 at 2:12 PM

The Army's prototype air defense laser system shot down 60 mm mortar rounds and drones during a recent four-week-long exercise, Raytheon Technologies announced May 16.

Raytheon's Intelligence & Space business unit makes the 50-kilowatt laser on the Directed Energy Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense, which mounts a laser on a Stryker combat vehicle and will work in tandem with other M-SHORAD vehicles that use kinetic interceptors. Kord, a KBR subsidiary, is the prime contractor on the directed energy variant.

During the testing at White Sands Missile Range, NM, the DE M-SHORAD “acquired, tracked, targeted and defeated multiple mortars and successfully accomplished multiple tests simulating real-world scenarios,” according to a Raytheon press release.

A Raytheon spokeswoman declined to comment on exactly how many mortars the laser shot down, or whether it failed any attempts.

“The Army designed very clear vignettes that they wanted the system to perform against, and we successfully met all their objectives,” the spokeswoman wrote in an email to Inside Defense. “In the vignettes, the DE M-SHORAD system shot down multiple mortars, demonstrating repeatable success with a high-energy laser in combat-realistic scenarios.”

The laser also defeated “several small, medium and large drones,” according to the press release, that included “fixed-wing and quadcopter-type UAS in Groups 1, 2 and 3,” according to the spokeswoman.

DE M-SHORAD tracked targets with both its built-in radar and off-board radar, according to the scenarios set up by the Army, the spokeswoman added.

“With an effectively infinite magazine and near-zero cost per shot, [high-energy laser] is now the proven answer to asymmetric threats like drones and mortars,” Byron Bright, president of KBR Government Solutions, said in the press release.

Operational Army units will receive four DE M-SHORAD systems this year, according to the press release.