Army Sets Early 2020s to Field Hypersonic, Laser Weapons

Jeff Brody

A top U.S. Army official announced that the service plans to bring hypersonic and directed energy weapons to the field in less than four years to support combat operations, Defense News reported Tuesday. The recently reorganized Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office is leading the project.

RCCTO aims to deliver combat-capable Stryker combat vehicles equipped with 50-kilowatt lasers in late fiscal year 2022, followed by new Long-Range Hypersonic Weapons in 2023. The Army started seeking a contractor for the LRHW missile in March and plans to name a company in August.

The service will integrate the weapon with the existing Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System and MH70 trailers for mobility and faster fielding. Meanwhile, the service is working on four laser-equipped Stryker vehicles. In 2018, the service tested its first laser on the vehicle in Germany. 

Lt. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood, director of RCCTO, said the Army is also considering to put the 50-kilowatt lasers on a new Stryker-based short-range air defense platform over the next five years. The RCCTO stood as the Rapid Capabilities Office before its transformation in March. Thurgood said the office’s first priority is to build hypersonics and directed energy weapons for the Army.

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