Drones or unmanned vehicles are becoming a major threat as more and more countries are developing and relying on them. The latest conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia has also seen widespread use of drones.
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So, with the imminent threat of drones, it is important to be able to defend yourself from them in the event of a confrontation. Although the United States’ defense forces boast air superiority with their most advanced and lethal combat fighters, they have recognized their deficiency in their short-range air defense capability (SHORAD).
“Since 2005, there has been a dramatic increase in aerial and missile platforms that can threaten US ground forces. The use of unmanned aerial systems (UASs) has increased exponentially, and UASs have been used successfully by both sides in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. In addition, fixed-wing aircraft, attack helicopters and cruise missiles continue to pose a significant threat to U.S. ground forces. ” stated the Congressional Research Service in 2018.
As a result, Congress has already poured billions of dollars to materialize the Initial Short-Range Air Defense Maneuver (IM-SHORAD). General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS), which is in partnership with Leonardo DRS and Raytheon, won a $ 1.2 billion contract.
The Army’s initial order is reportedly for 28 vehicles, $ 230 million, however, it plans to acquire 180 of these IM-SHORAD Stryker systems.
IM-SHORAD is an air defense artillery to contain threats from UAS and other rotary and fixed wing aircraft.
According to the Congressional Research Committee official document, the Army requires a Stryker combat vehicle as a chassis with an unmanned turret that will include: two Hellfire missiles capable of hitting ground and air targets; four Stinger missiles for less armored air targets in a launcher; a 30 mm automatic cannon; a 7.62 mm machine gun; electronic warfare package (EW) to combat selected enemy systems; and a Rada (Israeli) multi-mission radar capable of tracking ground and air targets.
However, while the U.S. Army is closing in on acquiring the armament, it is facing several technical problems before the Army can put it into service.
The platform experienced technological problems including the integration of a 30 mm cannon and Stinger missile system with the platform, reported Janes.
“The accelerated nature of the program, in order to deploy critical capabilities for the warrior, presents unique challenges so that we can bring the capabilities to the warrior,” Lieutenant Colonel Beau Barker, product manager M-SHORAD within the Executive Program Office ( PEO) Missiles and space said Janes.
“A specific technical challenge is the integration of mature weapon systems, such as the M299 launcher, the Stinger missile system and the 30 mm cannon,” he added. “Even though each component is mature in its own right, they need to be integrated to function as a system.”
David Hambling’s Forbes recalled the terrible fate of the DIVAD (Air Defense Division), also called Sergeant York, a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun based on the M48 Patton tank with two radar-fired Bofors 40 mm cannons. It suffered several developmental obstacles and was finally shelved in 1985, eight years after the start of development, costing $ 1.8 billion.
“Radar, designed for air-to-air combat, struggled with ground-level disorder and confused trees swaying in the wind as targets. During a test, he caught on a latrine fan; in another test, the fire control computer aimed the weapons at a booth full of vigilant VIPs, resulting in minor injuries as they struggled to protect themselves. In a test, a drone had to fly more than 18 times before Sergeant York could take it down, ”recalled Hambling in his report.
He concluded that even if SHORAD-IM were successful and received by 2023 as planned, the world would have evolved in terms of the threat it will face since the program’s adoption in 2015.