Military Embedded Systems

Laser weapons for air defense being tested by U.S. Army


August 12, 2020

Emma Helfrich

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Laser weapons for air defense being tested by U.S. Army
U.S. Army photo.

WASHINGTON. The U.S. Army is evaluating new air and missile defense systems — and testing laser weapons — after postponing some tests due to COVID-19. Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment and 3rd Bn., 6th Air Defense Artillery Air Missile Defense Test Detachment are involved in a limited user test of the Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) that began in early July, according to a press release from the branch.

The test had been scheduled for May but was pushed back due to COVID-19 safety concerns, according to Maj. Gen. Robert Rasch Jr., head of the Program Executive Office of Missiles and Space. Now the Army plans to complete the test by September.

The 3-43 ADA, a Patriot missile unit will also be the first unit equipped with the IBCS capability once the limited user test is complete, after which the equipment and software will be refreshed to support an operational test and evaluation before 2022, when the unit is expected to achieve operational capability.

Northrop Grumman partnered with the Army to develop the system. It's intended to replaced legacy stove-piped systems with a network-centric approach, integrating disparate radars and weapons for a more complete weapons enterprise.

The Army is also pursuing directed energy weapons, to include high-energy lasers and high-power microwave systems, including a a 50-kilowatt laser aboard a Stryker combat vehicle in support of air defense artillery operations, as well aa 300-kilowatt Indirect Fire Protection Capability-High Energy Laser, at the platoon level in support of brigade air defense artillery operations.


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