By Kris Osborn
*****Scout Warrior Report Below HERE *****
A number of emerging short-range-air-defense armed vehicle platforms destroyed enemy drone targets during a recent Army demonstration at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. - as part of an accelerated Army effort to better arm mobile ground combat vehicles with close-in air defense technology.
The demonstrations, which involved live-fire target exercises from a handful of vendors, were designed to help the Army fast-track a new Short Range Air Defense, or SHORAD, system to better defend ground maneuvering targets against an increasingly wide range of aerial threats. This can include low flying enemy aircraft such as helicopters, drones and other incoming attacks, Army and White Sands Missile Range weapons developers tell Scout Warrior.
One senior Army official familiar with the demonstration explained the service's need to quickly develop a stepped-up mobile, vehicle-mounted, maneuverable short range air defense capability in light of the fast-changing global threat circumstances. Given that counterinsurgency tactics have taken center stage during the last 15 years of ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army now recognizes a need to better protect ground combat formations against more advanced, near-peer type enemy threats - such as enemy drones, helicopters or low-flying aircraft.
"We atrophied air defense if you think about it. With more near-peer major combat operations threats on the horizon, the need for SHORAD and high-tier weapons like THAAD and PATRIOT comes back to the forefront. This is a key notion of maneuverable SHORAD - if you are going to maneuver you need an air defense capability able to stay up with a formation," the senior Army official told Warrior in an interview.
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"As part of the SHORAD effort, we did not want to wait for a developmental program."
Some of the systems included in the demonstration includes Israel's well-known Iron Dome air defense system, a Korean-build Hanwha Defense Systems armored vehicle air defense platform and a General Dynamics Land Systems Stryker Maneuver SHORAD Launcher.
Michael Peck, General Dynamics Land Systems Director of Enterprise Business Development, Stryker program, told Warrior that Stryker-launched Hellfire missiles destroy three drone targets in three attempts.
US military officials familiar with the demonstration said the Hanwha platform used was a South Korean K30 Biho, called the Flying Tiger; it is a 30mm self-propelled anti-aircraft weapon which combines an electro-optically guided 30mm gun system with surveillance radar on a K200 chassis.
Several General Dynamics Land Systems specially-armed Stryker vehicles were also among the systems which recently destroyed enemy drone targets during the demonstration at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. - according to Army officials familiar with the event.
One of the Stryker used was an infantry carrier armed with an Orbital ATK XM 81330mm 30mm cannon; this weapon can be fired from within the Stryker vehicle using a Remote Weapons Station, Army officials said.
Another system was a recently unveiled GDLS Stryker variant which arms the vehicle with HELLFIRE missiles.