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Raytheon tasked with outfitting three additional US Army Strykers with 50 kW-class lasers

The US Army is moving ahead with plans to provide a platoon with four Stryker vehicles outfitted with 50 kW-class lasers in 2022 to down unmanned aircraft systems, rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft, and rocket, artillery, and mortar threats.

A Raytheon-backed team is now tasked with proceeding with the effort after a Northrop Grumman prototype was forced out because of technical challenges, several service leaders told reporters on 18 August. However, if the initiative progresses, the service will host a ‘full and open' competition for a production contract.

In 2019, the army selected Kord Technologies as prime contractor for its Directed Energy Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense (DE M-SHORAD) initiative and it subsequently awarded two subcontracts to build competing prototypes – one to Raytheon and the other to Northrop Grumman. These subcontracts were set up with a series of ‘gates', or review points, designed to help the service measure progress and determine if the team could go forward.

“We reached a point where we had one team that cleared a gate and one team that did not clear the gate and at that point, unfortunately, we had to eliminate the team that did not meet the requirements,” explained DE M-SHORAD Program Manager Colonel Scott McLeod.

Northrop Grumman was the company eliminated and Defense News first reported that its technical challenges stem from a fire that broke out while the company tested the laser module.

“We are disappointed not to be participating in the combat shoot-off, but we look forward to continuing to develop our directed energy and laser weapon capabilities to help provide more comprehensive protection of frontline combat units,” Bridget Slayen, a Northrop Grumman spokesperson, told Janes on 18 August.

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