A Handful Of Lucky Soldiers Are Already Rocking The Army’s Newest Laser Weapon Downrange

Gear

The Army’s Stryker-mounted laser, built to zap enemy drones out of the sky, just took a major step towards combat.


Artillery soldiers with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment are currently getting intensive training on how to laser-blast drones out of the sky to field-test specially modified Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles outfitted with a Mobile Experimental High Energy Laser at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany in recent weeks. The training comes less than a year after the Stryker-equipped MEHEL was unveiled during a field test at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and is believed to mark the first practical deployment of laser weaponry by infantry soldiers overseas.

While the 5kW laser system isn’t quite strong enough to incinerate enemy fighters, it’s a big improvement over last year’s test at Ft. Sill, which wowed with a 2kW rig. It’s also big step towards both the Army’s $118 million goal of fielding a 50kW laser as part of short-range air defense systems (SHORAD) in the next five years, and the Space and Missile Defense Command’s long-term moonshot goal of a 100kW death ray — projects that make up just a small part of the Pentagon’s directed energy aspirations.

A 5 kilowatt laser sits on a Stryker armored vehicles called the Mobile Expeditionary High Energy Laser (MEHEL), during the Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment (MFIX) at Fort Sill, April 5, 2017.U.S. Army/Monica K. Guthrie

The Army has been promoting the living shit out of its nifty new laser trucks, but the location of the new training in Germany is most intriguing. Ever since U.S. Army Europe identified a major SHORAD gap in Eastern Europe after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, the Pentagon has been racing to deploy upgunned combat vehicles to NATO countries as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

Indeed, the 2nd Cav that’s testing the MEHEL system was also the first to receive 80 new Stryker ICVs rocking the 30mm cannon, plus an additional 87 Strykers with the CROWS-J Javelin system, to minimize troop exposure to enemy fire.

Where the Pentagon once envisioned the Stryker MEHEL downrange in Iraq and Syria to counter the “flying IEDs” and explosive-laden drones born from ISIS’s frightening “industrial revolution in terrorism,” the blows to the terror network in urban strongholds like Mosul and Raqqa, and the recentering of the U.S. military’s global footprint, means the future of laser warfare may be conventional, waged in the crowded skies above a battlespace.

One of the drones shot down by a MEHEL-equipped Stryker in April at Fort Sill during MFIX-17.U.S. Army/Monica K. Guthrie

To that end, the MEHEL won’t be the only new Stryker soldiers enjoy in the coming months: The Army is also eyeing the fledgling Stryker Maneuver SHORAD Launcher, or Stryker MSL, outfitted with an Avenger launcher turret that hosts an arsenal of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.

But in the meantime, those lucky 2nd Cav soldiers will just have to spent their spare time — as Army officials said during the MEHEL test at Fort Sill last year — “absolutely [blowing] lots of stuff up” with lasers.

WATCH NEXT:

Want to read more from Task & Purpose? Sign up for our daily newsletter »

The eight-foot floodwaters from the Missouri River put a third of Offutt Air Force Base underwater and severely damaged at least 30 buildings, according to the Air Force (Facebook/55th Wing Commander)

As floodwaters from the raging Missouri River began to engulf buildings and runways at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska in March, one retired officer was racing through the headquarters of the 55th Wing on a unique rescue mission: to save as much as the Wing's history as he could.

Read More Show Less

The Army has reopened an investigation into the 2007 death of Spc. Kamisha Block, which was originally blamed on friendly fire but has since come under heavy scrutiny.

Read More Show Less
A U.S. Soldier assigned to 2nd Battalion, 198th Armored Regiment, 155th Brigade Combat Team, Mississippi Army National Guard, takes a moment to rest during Decisive Action Rotation 17-07 at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., May 30, 2017. (U.S. Army photo)

(Reuters Health) - Voice analysis software can help detect post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans based on their speech, a study suggests.

Doctors have long understood that people with psychiatric disorders may speak differently than individuals who do not have mental health problems, researchers note in Depression and Anxiety. While some previous research points to the potential for distinct speech patterns among people with PTSD, it's been unclear whether depression that often accompanies PTSD might explain the unique voice characteristics.

In the current study, voice analysis software detected which veterans had PTSD and which ones did not with 89 percent accuracy.

Read More Show Less
Team American Freedom with the historic C-47 Tico Bell in the background. (Q Concepts via Military.com)

Editor's Note: This article by Sean Mclain Brown originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

With the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion into Normandy, France coming June 5, a group of veterans are planning a reenactment jump as part of the celebration.

But they'll be jumping with an item not on the packing list of World War II U.S. soldiers — or at least not the official one: bourbon.

Read More Show Less

Marine veteran Rep. Seth Moulton has officially jumped into the 2020 presidential race, promising to speak extensively about patriotism, service, and national security as part of his message.

Mouton, who deployed to Iraq four times, is currently a congressman from Massachusetts. He told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on Monday that he has long valued service to the country.

"That's why I joined the Marines," Moulton told Stephanopoulos. "It's why I ran for Congress to try to prevent what I saw got us into Iraq from happening again, and it's why I'm running to take on the most divisive president in American history."

Read More Show Less