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A Handful Of Lucky Soldiers Are Already Rocking The Army’s Newest Laser Weapon Downrange
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.
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Trump: $6.1 billion in DoD money going to border wall wasn’t for anything that seemed ‘too important to me’
President Donald Trump claims the $6.1 billion from the Defense Department's budget that he will now spend on his border wall was not going to be used for anything "important."
Trump announced on Friday that he was declaring a national emergency, allowing him to tap into military funding to help pay for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."
D-Day veteran James McCue died a hero. About 500 strangers made sure of it.
"It's beautiful," Army Sgt. Pete Rooney said of the crowd that gathered in the cold and stood on the snow Thursday during McCue's burial. "I wish it happened for every veteran's funeral."