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The Army's beastly new short-range air defense turret is moving full steam ahead
After years in development, the Army's high-powered mobile short-range air defense system (M-SHORAD) for Stryker brigade combat teams is marching towards an explosive debut on a battlefield near you.
The Army's fiscal year 2020 budget request released on Tuesday calls for $262.1 million to procure 44 M-SHORAD systems, more than double the amount the branch detailed in last year's request for both fiscal years 2019 and 2020.
The M-SHORAD system represents a major boost in firepower for Stryker vehicles, consisting primarily of a 360-degree Avenger air defense turret designed to bring Stinger and AGM-114 Longbow Hellfire missiles (the latter of which are traditionally used in air-to-surface roles), an XM914 30mm cannon, and a 7.62mm machine gun to bear against UAVs.
The extra cash is just the latest sign that the Army is pushing to get this turret system out the door as soon as possible. This hefty boost came just weeks after the Army posted a sources sought notice for industry partners to whip up 144 of the interim M-SHORAD solution engineered by Leonardo DRS and selected by the branch back in June 2018.
To partially quote the musical savants of P.O.D.: Boom! Here comes the Boom! Ready or not ...
A rendering of the Leonardo DRS mission equipment package atop a Stryker combat vehicle to serve as the Interim Maneuver-Short-Range Air Defense system for the U.S. Army(Courtesy of Leonardo DRS)
An M-SHORAD solution has been in the works since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and necessitate a resurgence in Cold War style tactics in Europe. According to sources sought notice, the Army sought to receive its first battery of 36 M-SHORAD systems by fiscal 2020. But officials have also stated that they're looking to field the system in Europe that same year.
"We are looking for a rapid solution for the near-term fight," Maj. Gen. John Ferarri, the Army's head of program analysis and evaluation, told Warrior Maven last year. "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."
The Army's list of modernization priorities detailed in the Pentagon budget documents released on Tuesday includes "[protecting] our forces from adversary rocket, missile, and drone delivered fires to enable joint operations" using "both theater systems and short-range air defense, like the Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense with directed energy technologies"
The directed energy element is a bit of an eyebrow-raiser, especially since soldiers have been operating Stryker vehicles outfitted with anti-UAV lasers since the middle of last year. But based on the budget data and sources sought notice, it looks like the Army is putting its money where its mouth is in getting these missile-laden, cannon-rocking boom turrets downrange as soon as possible.
WATCH NEXT: The Army Enjoys Some Stinger-On-Stinger Action
The Marine Corps has tapped a new Silicon Valley defense firm to develop a "digital fortress" of networked surveillance systems in order to enhance the situational awareness of security forces at installations around the world.
Marine Corps Installations Command on July 15 announced a $13.5 million sole source contract award to Anduril Industries — the two-year-old defense technology company and Project Maven contractor founded by Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey and several former Palantir Technologies executives — for a new Autonomous Surveillance Counter Intrusion Capability (ASCIC) designed to help secure installations against "all manners of intrusion" without additional manpower.
This is no standard intrusion system. Through its AI-driven Lattice Platform network and 32-foot-tall autonomous Sentry Towers, Anduril purports to combine the virtual reality systems that Luckey pioneered at Oculus with Pentagon's most advanced sensors into a simple mobile platform, enhancing an installation's surveillance capabilities with what Wired recently dubbed "a web of all-seeing eyes, with intelligence to know what it sees."
The Marine Corps' dune buggy drone jammer may have downed two Iranian drones in the Strait of Hormuz, U.S. military have officials announced.
The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer was transiting the Strait of Hormuz on July 18 when two Iranian drones came dangerously close, according to U.S. Central Command.
"This was a defensive action by the USS Boxer in response to aggressive interactions by two Iranian UAS [unmanned aerial systems] platforms in international waters," CENTCOM spokesman Army Lt. Col. Earl Brown said in a statement. "The Boxer took defensive action and engaged both of these platforms."
Green Beret with terminal cancer meets Trump to rally support for military medical malpractice reform
On July 17, Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal briefly met with President Donald Trump at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina to discuss the eponymous legislation that would finally allow victims of military medical malpractice to sue the U.S. government.
A Green Beret with terminal lung cancer, Stayskal has spent the last year fighting to change the Feres Doctrine, a 1950 Supreme Court precedent that bars service members like him from suing the government for negligence or wrongdoing.
The Pentagon is no longer topless. On Tuesday, the Senate voted to confirm Mark Esper as the United States' first permanent defense secretary in more than seven months.
Esper is expected to be sworn in as defense secretary later on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters.
"We are grateful for the Senate leadership and the Senate Armed Services Committee's willingness to quickly move through this process," Hoffman said.
The new trailer for Top Gun: Maverick that dropped last week was indisputably the white-knuckle thrill ride of the summer, a blur of aerial acrobatics and beach volleyball that made us wonder how we ever lost that lovin' feeling in the decades since we first met Pete "Maverick" Mitchell back in 1986.
But it also made us wonder something else: Why is Maverick still flying combat missions in an F/A-18 Super Hornet as a 57-year-old captain after more than 30 years of service?