The US Army is set to test Stryker armoured fighting vehicles with laser-shooting capabilities early next year.

The move is part of the larger programme to explore new technologies that will help in protecting the ground forces and equipment against emerging threats at the battlefield such as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and rockets, artillery and mortars.

Currently, an army-industry team is integrating two Strykers with 50kW-class laser weapon capabilities and support equipment.

The modified Strykers will be tested under different scenarios in a combat shoot-off event to determine the threshold requirements for this class of laser.

The result will be then evaluated to select one of the two laser systems to advance with further prototype production.

The US expects to roll-out the first lasers mounted Stryker vehicles for operational fielding by the fiscal year 2022.

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The Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) programme manager for Directed Energy-Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense (DE-MSHORAD) Col G. Scott McLeod said: “This is moving extremely fast. Everybody has done a great job of managing all of the technical complexity and challenges of getting these new components built and integrated so we can move to the shoot-off next year.”

RCCTO selected two vendors in a cost-share approach for the development of the two laser systems.

The prime contractor, Kord Technologies, is supervising the integration efforts by the two sub-contractors- Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.

The integration work is being carried out at two different places to ensure fair competition.

McLeod added: “Soon, we’ll begin performing internal evaluations of the systems here at Redstone as part of the walk-up to the combat shoot-off in a few months.

“We’re looking forward to getting the vehicles fully integrated and ready to go out to the range.”

In October, the US Army tested new capabilities of the Stryker Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) vehicle to boost its operational effectiveness.