Senate authorizers want the Army to submit a report on its efforts to modernize and expand short-range air defense systems, including the Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense.
“While the committee applauds the Army’s efforts to date, it remains concerned that potential adversaries, such as Russia and China, have developed new aircraft and unmanned aerial systems with operational speeds that can quickly close on U.S. ground forces,” the Senate Armed Services Committee wrote in the report accompanying its fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill.
“The committee believes there is an unmet requirement to engage hostile air assets at greater ranges to protect U.S. and allied ground forces,” the report stated.
In its report, the Army should address its prioritization of air defense modernization, whether the service has allocated enough funding for short-range air defense, how emerging air-based threats will affect the modernization plans and necessary force structure for short-range air defense, senators write.
Four prototypes of a directed-energy variant of the M-SHORAD will be fielded to Europe in fiscal year 2022, where they will operate in the same battery as the kinetic M-SHORAD systems. The DE M-SHORAD will have a 50-kilowatt solid-state laser, which could be more cost-effective to use against drones and rockets than kinetic systems.
Both the kinetic and directed-energy variants will be based on the Stryker combat vehicle, and they are the Army’s first new short-range air defense systems in decades.
Fires will be the decisive element of future large-scale combat operations, which will make air defense more important than ever before, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and training (G-3/5/7) said earlier this month.