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Video Above: The US Army is arming its Stryker vehicle with attack drones, lasers, up-gunned cannons and anti-aircraft missiles

By Kris Osborn - President & Editor-In-Chief, Warrior Maven

The Army’s first anti-drone, missile-armed Stryker vehicles have arrived in Europe and are now ready for combat, a massive first step for the Army’s Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD) program to bring air-defense operational reality to Army Stryker maneuver formations.

The M-SHORAD program, which arms Strykers with HELLFIRE and Stinger missiles, is intended to bring a Cold War era air defense priority to advancing infantry formations which had “atrophied” or even disappeared during years of counterinsurgency where there was no air threat.

Stryker

A Stryker vehicle fires a BGM-71 TOW missile at a range, June 17, 2009. Image: US Army/Pfc. Victor J. Ayala

Maj. Gen. Brian Gibson, Director, Air & Missile Defense Cross Functional Team, Army Futures Command, referred to the first unit equipped as a “milestone,” putting the first tactical fires ability inside an operational unit with an ability to “employ multiple effectors.”

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Stryker Vehicles

A Stryker vehicle armed with an ability to fire HELLFIRE and Stinger missiles can track, target and destroy enemy drones, helicopters and even lower flying fixed-wing aircraft. Advancing infantry units can be protected in unprecedented ways since the advent of the Stryker more than 20 years ago. The mobility of Styrkers, armed with anti-aircraft weapons, is of particular relevance on the European continent for the U.S. and its allies to demonstrate an ability to deploy quickly, transit across the region and conduct expeditionary operations in response to any kind Russian activity along contested or high-tension areas in Eastern Europe.

Stryker-Mounted Laser Weapon

A Northrop Grumman photo illustration of the defense contractor's Stryker-mounted laser weapon in action. (Northrop Grumman)

Deploying the SHORAD-capable Strykers in Europe represents the first-increment in a three-fold process to evolve the capability for the vehicles. Increment 2 involves arming the Stryker with a 50kw laser weapon, an effort which is progressing quickly with the Army and its industry partners. This will of course introduce a new sphere of silent, high-speed precision attacks against enemy air assets or even incoming munitions such as missiles, rockets or artillery,
The progress with Increment 2 and arming the Stryker with scalable laser attack capability is such that Army futurists and weapons developers are already beginning early conceptual work on Increment 3, a yet-to-be-determined effort to bring paradigm-shifting anti-air weapons to the SHORAD program.

“It might be easiest to put a new missile in the same form factor however technology may provide you with a much greater capability. We have every intent to see ourselves and find out what the realm of the possible is. We should understand the art of the possible by putting as many arrows into our quiver as possible. We remain committed to prototyping as quickly as we can without locking down too quickly,” Gibson said.

Kris Osborn is the President of Warrior Maven and The Defense Editor of The National Interest --

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President