The US Army has realised that with new threats its Short range air defence (SHORAD) capabilities are seriously lacking. It is, therefore, taking initiatives to find near-term solutions to counter both traditional air attack, as well as, unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Industry’s responses to address these needs were well represented on the AUSA 2017 show floor. A number of the systems shown had participated in a series of live fire demonstrations conducted by the Army in September at the White Sands, New Mexico ranges. The Army effort first surfaced in a February 2017 Sources Sought for “Manoeuvre-SHOARD” solutions. The event offered industry to present non-development systems the opportunity to engage two air targets and one ground target. The effort is in response to a “directed requirement” with the intent of acquiring a near-tern, interim system for forward deployed forces.
Of the various solutions displayed at AUSA MILTECH confirmed through Army and industry sources that at least three participated in the firing trials. General Dynamics Land Systems teamed with Boeing to fit the latter’s AVENGER with a multi-missile launcher capable of firing the HELLFIRE,HELLFIRE LONGBOW and AI-3 and AIM-9X SIDEWINDER. Justin Holmes of the GD Mobile SHORAD Launcher (MSL) team stated that they successfully destroyed all three targets. He also indicated that MSL could integrate the Orbital ATK 30mm Chain gun in the station. This would further its combat capabilities providing both a capability to engage a wide range of ground threats and an additional option for engaging small UASs. STRYKER MSL has the advantages of the mobility and protection to move with front line armoured manoeuvre units. Plus HELLFIRE and potentially the 30mm (which is now enhanced by the new Orbital ATK proximity fused round) make MSL a not simply an air defence system but a system able to destroy ground targets in an over-watch role.
The Republic of Korea’s Hanwha Defence also participated in the trials with its BIHO Hybrid, which they displayed at the show. Mounted on the tracked chassis this system has two 300 auto cannon plus a dual Shingung surface to air missile pod with 7km range. It also has integrated TPS-830K surveillance and fire-control radar, an electro-optic targeting system for full independent operation. A Hanwha spokesperson stated that BIHO is fielded by the ROK Army but declined to discuss the White Sands firing results citing the terms of the demonstration agreement.
Raytheon showed its SkyHunter, the US version of Israel’s IRON DOME from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aircraft Industries. It too is being tested at White Sands but though referred to as SHORAD it has primarily been a fixed site defense asset. A number of other SHORAD capable systems were also displayed. These included BAE Systems with Bradley mounting radar, Stinger anti-air missile pod, jammers, and 30mm auto-cannon. Oshkosh also showed the Boeing AVENGER on its JLTV.
The Army is evaluating the results of the firing trails and other industry submissions and could determine in next step for 2018.
Stephen W. Miller