US Army’s Germany-based 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment (5-4 ADA) has fielded the first four Mobile Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) systems, the service has announced.
5-4 ADA, a subordinate unit under the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, is the first battalion in the Army to test, receive, and field the new M-SHORAD, which is replacing aging Avenger short range air defense systems.
The first of overall 144 systems that will be delivered by General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) under a $1.2 billion contract were fielded earlier this month. More are scheduled to arrive at US Army garrison Ansbach, Germany, later this year.
The M-SHORAD, which integrates existing guns, missiles, rockets and sensors onto a Stryker A1 vehicle, is the army’s newest addition in a variety of modernization efforts. The system is designed to defend maneuvering forces against unmanned aircraft systems, rotary-wing and residual fixed-wing threats.
The 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command is US Army Europe and Africa’s executive agent for all theater air and missile defense operations and force management.
“This is truly a testament to our army’s commitment to increase air and missile defense capability and capacity to the joint force, and especially here in Europe,” said Brig. Gen. Gregory J. Brady, Commander of the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command.
“Just under 3 years ago 5-4 ADA was the Army’s first SHORAD battalion activated in almost 13 years, and now they are proud again to be the first to lead the army’s air and missile defense modernization initiatives with M-SHORAD.”
The army used a rapid prototyping strategy to accelerate the timeline for M-SHORAD initial operating capability by four years, resulting in the delivery of a prototype system in approximately one year. In 2020, 18 air and missile defense crewmembers from 5-4 ADA were selected to undergo a 6-month initial operational assessment with the prototype systems at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
The fielding of the new M-SHORAD was not without problems, however, as the service had to tackle software issues with integrating the weapons systems onto the Stryker. The COVID-19 pandemic also put a dent in the testing schedule.
The addition of the Stryker-based system will provide better protection of maneuver forces at increased ranges and with improved mobility, allowing a stronger defense of US forces, allies and partners against adversary air threats.
“I developed a passion for this system,” said Spc. Andy Mendoza, one of the crewmembers from 5-4 ADA to assess the first prototypes. “We learned how to operate in every position on these, but also how to take care of them. Being one of the gunners selected to be part of that, it was really a huge honor. I’m really proud to be able to bring what I learned back home to the rest of the crew.”
“There’s really no comparison to anything I’ve operated in my career,” said Sgt. Andrew Veres, an Air and Missile Defense crewmember with 5-4 ADA. “Everything in these systems is an improvement – the survivability, mobility, dependability, off road ability – it gives us the ability to stay in the fight longer.”
The Army intends to field the M-SHORAD system to four additional Air and Missile Defense battalions beginning in 2021. Future development of follow-on M-SHORAD systems will incorporate technology insertions, to include directed energy and improved missiles, utilizing a mix of complementary DE and kinetic interceptor systems to protect maneuver forces.