HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Boeing and General Dynamics Land Systems have teamed up to build a short-range air defense system on a Stryker combat vehicle and plan to demonstrate the capability at a SHORAD shoot-off hosted by the Army next month.
The team brought its Manuever SHORAD Launcher (MSL) Stryker to the Space and Missile Defense Symposium on August 8 before it heads to White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, where the Army will host the shoot-out designed to inform the service’s way ahead for an interim SHORAD solution.
The Army identified a SHORAD capability gap in Europe last year and has been moving quickly to fill it by developing a system that will give maneuver forces the capability to defend against air threats from peer adversaries on the forward edge of the battlefield.
The MSL Stryker is essentially made up of a modernized Avenger air defense system on the back of a Stryker reconfigured to accommodate the system on a turret.
The new Avenger is designed to shoot a multitude of different missiles, can be equipped with a 30mm gun and potentially even directed energy weapons down the road.
With none of the maneuver formations having a SHORAD capability, GDLS leaned forward and invested its own money to configure Strykers to be able to integrate a SHORAD capability “and that capability that the Army wanted to integrate was an Avenger,” Kendall Linson, a business development manager at GDLS, told Defense News.
The Avenger is a SHORAD system that is now only resident in the Army National Guard and is used to defend the National Capitol Region from possible air threats. The Army will deploy an Avenger unit to Europe in February 2018 to join the nine-month rotation of an armored brigade combat team.
The team will shoot Longbow missiles at White Sands, but have designed the system to host any missile in a certain range and various guns along with a laser-range finder because it anticipates the Army wanted flexibility to incorporate a variety of ways to handle air threats depending on what maneuver formation is using the system.
“When you start talking about SHORAD there is no one solution set,” Linson said. “You have to look at dedicated or non-dedicated and that will factor what goes on the vehicle.”
The Army has requirements out there for SHORAD solutions, but it “doesn’t have to fall on one platform to provide that capability,” he noted.
For instance if a powerful laser weapon was incorporated, then it might make more sense to make that a dedicated platform designed to handle that specific weapon system because of the size, weight and power considerations.
However, some units like the Infantry Brigade Combat Team may prefer to have a non-dedicated system that is equipped to take down drones.
The weapons interface is designed to incorporate multiple effectors on it, Jim Leary, the global sales and marketing lead at Boeing, said. So while the Avenger on the back of the Stryker looks like an Avenger because it uses the same casing, the interface inside of it makes it far more advanced.
With the interface, the company could add a new missile onto the platform through just two months of software integration, Leary said.
The Army is looking for an interim SHORAD solution to field in roughly 2019 and while that may seem fast for a system acquisition, it recently developed an up-gunned Stryker with a 30mm cannon to meet an urgent request from the European theater in roughly two years with plans to field the system to a unit in 2018.
A Stryker can be configured to accept and integrate an Avenger onto the vehicle in roughly 10 months, according to Linson.
“This is ready,” Leary added.
The two companies are also considering other ways to configure the Stryker with SHORAD capability including ideas to take the interface completely out of the Avenger casing and integrating it into a Stryker without having to cut the back of it to accommodate the Avenger system.
“With a little creativity, you could put this on the back of a regular Stryker in a different formation on a different turret or how do we put this on the existing turret,” Leary said.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College.