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    HomeUnited StatesU.S ArmyA Moment of Truth for the Army's Chief Laser Weapon

    A Moment of Truth for the Army’s Chief Laser Weapon

    A Moment of Truth for the Army’s Chief Laser Weapon

    After nearly a decade in development, the 's primary vehicle-mounted laser weapon is on a collision course with its most fearsome foe yet — dust.

    The service has deployed four Directed Energy Maneuver-Short Range Defense, or DE M-SHORAD, prototypes — Stryker infantry carrier vehicles outfitted with 50-kilowatt laser weapons systems — to the Middle East for “real world testing” in an overseas operational environment, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James Mingus recently told Breaking Defense.

    The four prototypes reportedly arrived in the U.S. Central Command area of operations in early February, with the Army undertaking “initial testing activities” on the path to a future live-fire demonstration, according to Breaking Defense.

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    While the DE M-SHORAD system has already undergone testing at U.S. facilities like the White Sands Missile Range in Mexico, Central Command offers the potential for testing amid real-world challenges like dust storms and other atmospheric phenomena that, according to the Congressional Research Service, could render any directed-energy weapon essentially ineffective.

    “Substances in the atmosphere — particularly water vapor, but also sand, dust, salt particles, smoke, and other air pollution — absorb and scatter light, and atmospheric turbulence can defocus a laser beam,” according to the 2023 CRS…

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