The Joint Capabilities Board is scheduled to consider approving the U.S. Army’s Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense system requirements this spring, according to Col. William Parker, the service’s lead on air and missile defense modernization.

The board brings recommendations to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, which supervises the development of new capabilities and acquisition efforts, for final approval of program requirements.

The M-SHORAD system’s development took place in record time as the result of an urgent operational need identified in 2016 for the European theater. The Army received the requirement to build the system in February 2018. It took 19 months from the time the service generated the requirement to the delivery of prototypes for testing in the first quarter of 2020.

The first platoon to receive the M-SHORAD, a Stryker combat vehicle-based platform that includes a mission equipment package designed by Leonardo DRS and RTX’s Stinger vehicle missile launcher, deployed to Europe in 2021.

The Army is now fielding its third M-SHORAD battalion at Fort Cavazos, Texas. The first M-SHORAD battalion remains in Germany, and the second is based at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

“When we look at Increment 1 of M-SHORAD, that initially came out as part of a directed requirement, so we’re following up right now through the requirements process,” Parker told Defense News in a recent interview.

Parker’s team briefed protection capability to the Functional Capabilities Board in December. That organization falls under the purview of the Joint Capabilities Board. Now the JCB will consider the Increment 1 capabilities development document in April, Parker said.

“As we continue to codify those requirements,” he explained, the service is looking closely at sustainment of the capability. Upon completion, “that’s going to really put us in a good place for being able to get this thing fully transitioned and get that capability out to the warfighter.”

Two more variants of M-SHORAD are coming. The Army has concurrently been working on a 50-kilowatt laser weapon version, known as Directed Energy M-SHORAD, and is in the process of holding a competition to bring a new and improved interceptor replacement for the current Stinger missile. DE M-SHORAD is considered the second increment of the program.

The directed-energy variant was originally to become a program of record in 2023, with the possibility of a new competition opening up for vendors to supply alternatives to the current prototype solution from Kord Technologies using a laser developed by Raytheon, an RTX company.

But the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, which is spearheading the effort, determined the system would need more time in development. The new plan is to transfer the program to the Program Executive Office Missiles and Space in fiscal 2025.

Parker said the rapid capabilities office continues to work on the technology and wants to keep DE M-SHORAD’s move to a program of record on the same timeline.

The third increment of the program is primarily focused on providing a next-generation Stinger missile and 30mm proximity fuse ammunition, which will help “gain capability within that maneuver SHORAD and over in the counter-[unmanned aircraft systems] space,” Parker said.

The service wants the Stinger missile replacement for SHORAD to be faster, survive jamming and more easily hit tougher targets like drones, the service’s program executive officer for missiles and space, Brig. Gen. Frank Lozano, told Defense News last fall.

In September 2023, the Army awarded RTX and Lockheed Martin with contracts to competitively develop the Stinger replacement. RTX is the provider of the legacy Stinger missile currently used in the Army’s SHORAD capability and also in a man-portable configuration. The Army no longer produces Stinger missiles, so the service is pulling from current inventory to meet the mission.

While the Army has sent some of its refurbished Stingers to Ukraine in response to Russia’s invasion of the country, and no longer builds new Stinger missiles, it still plans to take five years to develop and qualify the new interceptor and move into low-rate production.

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 degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.

In Other News
Load More