MONS Correspondent Marty Kauchak filed a mid-day report from the Space and Missile Defense (SMD) Symposium, Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
STRYKER Maneuver SHORAD Launcher (MSL) is the Boeing-General Dynamics Land Systems’ platform solution to fill the mission gap in the US Army’s short-range air defence (SHORAD) portfolio to counter unmanned air systems, rotary- and fixed wing aircraft, and cruise missile threats. The companies’ internal investments fielded STRYKER MSL, which will compete in a US Army “shoot out” this September at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
The event will address requirements in a service June 2017 initial capabilities document. The platform was unveiled, as a static display, yesterday for the first time at the symposium.
Jim Leary, the Senior Manager for IAMD Global Sales and Marketing at Boeing, revealed his industry team will shoot government furnished missiles during the shoot off: “There is growth plan for this to very quickly integrate high caliber guns and maybe even some directed energy. Boeing and General Dynamics have partnered for three years on directed energy on a Stryker vehicle so it is very easy to dovetail that technology against larger threat set.”
Boeing used its heritage AVENGER air defence system as one technology baseline for MSL. “This is a variation of the AVENGER that Boeing started making in 1987 – we built 1,100 of them for the Army. The difference between that old version and this one is the interface of higher technology weapons systems and multiple weapons systems. We can interface with more than one type of missile,” Leary said. Indeed, the MSL has successfully fired Longbow HELLFIRE and HELLFIRE missiles, Stinger, AI3 missiles 2.75in rockets and other weapons according to a placard mounted on the static display.
Laery continued: “We can multiple different effectors – to include electronic warfare, directed energy – different missiles and even future missiles. This is very scalable with software ‘tweaks’ and perhaps more, rewriting software code. That is much different and cheaper, than having to buy traditional hardware – so we can add a future missile.”
Boeing pursued STRYKER as the host platform due to its proven mobility and the protection it provides embarked crews and passengers on the battlefield. “You are getting a multiple air and ground effector on a proven combat system,” Leary emphasised.
The industry team is also building upon its rapidly maturing technology prowess in directed energy – having mounted 2kW (kilowatt) and 5kW lasers on a STRYKER. “We’re integrating a 10kw laser for later on this fall,” the retired career air defence artillery officer added. “We have the SWaP [size, weight and power] capacity to do this.”
While Boeing will provide “acquisition, tracking and pointing” to mature the follow-on laser payload, the laser itself to be used in follow-on testing, is conceptually designed to be a commercial, “plug-and-play” variant. Kendall Linson, the Business Development Manager for Enterprise Business Development at GDLS, noted his company is searching for the type of STRYKER platform variant (of 10 delivered) to put the enhanced laser capability on. Further downstream, the industry team is planning to field a 30kW, 30cm beam laser about 2021. “The laser for the 10kW and 30kW models will be Lockheed Martin lasers, the beam director will be Boeing’s and the vehicle will be General Dynamics, and we’ll be the lead integrator” Leary further confirmed.