Air Defense: May 10, 2001


: The US Army is evaluating its SHORAD (Short Range Air Defense) systems, programs, and threats, and expects to come up with a new strategy. With this new strategy in place, it will select from several available upgrades and new equipment to fulfill this new concept. The upgrade options include: 

1. Upgrading the Stinger missiles to Block-1A, which improves the electronics and could enter production in FY02. (Stinger is the shoulder-fired missile used for self-defense by Army ground units.) 

2. Upgrading the Stinger missiles to Block-1B, which would be available in FY05. This upgrade includes a new focal plane array seeker which could track aircraft at greater ranges.

3. Fit new AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles on the existing Chaparral launchers (and possibly other launchers). This is a highly interesting option as the AIM-9X has several interesting capabilities, such as the ability to fire from near-zero elevation and maneuver immediately after launch. It would also work within the existing control, detection, and warning network. 

4. HUMRAM (i.e., launching AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles from a Hummer truck). This would take advantage of the fact that AMRAAM missiles have their own active radars and could provide the Army SHORAD units with a Beyond Visual Range weapon.

5. Eventually, the Army wants to field a solid-state laser able to destroy not only aircraft, but artillery shells, mortar shells, rockets, cruise missiles, and other threats.--Stephen V Cole


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