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US 4-60th Air Defense Artillery Regiment receives DE M-SHORAD laser air defense prototype systems.

| 2023

The U.S. Army's Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, known as RCCTO, has proudly announced the successful delivery of four state-of-the-art Directed Energy Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense (DE M-SHORAD) prototype systems to the 4th Battalion, 60th Air Defense Artillery Regiment stationed at Fort Sill. This delivery of the prototype platoon represents a significant milestone for the DE M-SHORAD Project Management Office, led by Colonel Steven D. Gutierrez, and stands as a major achievement for the entire team involved, as reported by Venetia Gonzales, U.S. Army.
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U.S. soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 60th Air Defense Artillery Regiment positioned in front of four Directed Energy Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense (DE M-SHORAD) prototype systems (Picture source: 4th Battalion, 60th Air Defense Artillery Regiment)

This momentous event aligns with the historic reactivation of the 4-60th ADAR in March 2022, followed by the reactivation of its Delta Battery in June of the current year. It signifies the smooth transition of the 4-60th ADAR from the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command to the 1st Armored Division, which took place in November 2022.

In preparation for the integration of these groundbreaking laser weapon systems, the 4-60th ADAR initiated training in the fall of 2022. Drivers underwent intensive training using a surrogate M-SHORAD vehicle designed to replicate the DE M-SHORAD prototype's size, weight, and power characteristics. Additionally, the crews skillfully practiced executing the attack structure or "kill chain" using Virtual Crew Trainer Operating Systems provided by the RCCTO.

In March 2023, at the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, crews from the 4-60th ADAR and the DE M-SHORAD prototype team collaborated to conduct a highly successful capability demonstration during a Live Fire Exercise. This event highlighted the remarkable potential of these prototypes and made a lasting impression on participants and observers.

Colonel Gutierrez expressed, "The delivery of DE M-SHORAD prototypes to the 4-60th ADAR represents a transformational milestone in the Army’s modernization campaign. It is an achievement that brings what was once considered a next-generation capability into the present. These high-energy laser systems will be a game-changer on today's battlefield, serving as a critical component of an integrated, layered, and in-depth air missile defense for division and brigade maneuver formations."

The receipt of these groundbreaking systems enables the 4-60th ADAR Delta Battery to commence collective training with kinetic variants of the DE M-SHORAD, which were also received in June 2023. This opportunity allows for enhanced evaluation of the integration and utilization of these systems within the Army's integrated and layered air missile defense architecture, as well as their alignment within division formations.

Former 4-60th ADAR battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Alex Corby, remarked: "The delivery of the DE M-SHORAD prototypes marks a remarkable advancement in our military capabilities. Today, Delta Battery makes history as the Army's first-ever tactical Directed Energy capable unit. Armed with cutting-edge technology, they are pioneers, paving the way toward a more formidable and agile future for our forces."

Looking ahead, in collaboration with the Army Test and Evaluation Command, the Army plans to incorporate these prototypes into a Soldier Touchpoint in FY24. This assessment will yield valuable insights into the capabilities and limitations of these cutting-edge systems, supporting the Army's ongoing pursuit of innovation and progress.

RCCTO, in partnership with its dedicated allies and the 4-60th ADAR, remains unwavering in its commitment to innovation and excellence. Together, they forge a path toward a future where advanced technologies like the DE M-SHORAD prototype system enhance and fortify national defense.

Defense News September 2023

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