US Army is boosting its anti-aircraft capabilities in Europe

PARIS, (BM) – In the early 2000s, the US Army decided to disband all its units known as SHORAD [Short Range Air Defense], and therefore capabilities associated with anti-aircraft. However, the context has changed since, with the emergence of new threats [such as drones] and the hypothesis of facing an adversary who can challenge US airpower, opex360 reports.

The conflict in Donbas [south-eastern Ukraine], where Ukrainian forces are grappling with pro-Russian separatists, has led the US Army to change its mind and consider again. The importance of having close-range anti-aircraft capabilities to protect the maneuvers of its so-called melee units.

This situation quickly resulted in the return to favor of FIM-92 “Stinger,” an anti-aircraft missile – MANPADS type, with the destocking of 72 Avenger systems, 36 of which are entered staffing, after being modernized.

Simultaneously, the US Army launched the M-SHORAD [Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense] program, based on the Stryker A1 armored vehicle. To this end, General Dynamics Land Systems [GDLS] has been awarded a $ 230 million contract to deliver 28 machines, equipped with a mission module developed by Leonardo DRS in partnership with L3 Harris, Moog, and Northrop Grumann, one 30mm XM 914 cannon, one 7.63mm M240 machine gun, 4 Stinger and 2 Hellfire missiles.

The affair was carried out smoothly since, via a press release published on April 23, the US Army indicated that the 5th Battalion of the 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment is the first unit to put the M-SHORAD system into service.

The Pentagon already delivered four copies to them. More will follow by the end of this year to quickly make the 5th Battalion the first fully operational “M-SHORAD” unit in the US Army. And there are plans to equip four more battalions, GDLS having been notified of an order of $ 1.2 billion for this purpose last October.

The capabilities of these Stryker M-SHORADs will further evolve, with the addition of a 50-kilowatt laser weapon to counter the drone threat. A contract has been awarded to Northrop Grumman and Raytheon for this purpose to commission as a four-vehicle platoon in 2022.

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