The Army is seeking proposals for short-range air defense (SHORAD) capabilities aboard a Stryker wheeled fighting vehicle to protect units from enemy aircraft, especially the proliferating threat of unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

A request for information (RFI) released Dec. 7 outlines the Army’s need to “defend maneuver formations and other tactical echelons from low-altitude air attack and surveillance.” The system should be able to protect against threats that include all sizes of low-altitude UAS, rotary wing and fixed wing aircraft.

Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle Photo: General Dynamics Land Systems
Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle
Photo: General Dynamics Land Systems

“Adaptive threats have developed a suite of airborne capabilities, supported by an integrated mix of surface-to-air and surface-to-surface effectors, which challenge U.S. Army maneuver forces’ ability to conduct operations on the ground, in the air, and in the cyber domains,” the RFI states. “Therefore maneuvering formations require air defense capabilities to counter a wide range of air threats.”

There is no contract attached to the RFI, but plans are to issue a request for proposals in calendar-year 2018. The Army wants to purchase 72 “interim maneuver SHORAD” systems. Contractors should be prepared to deliver 12 production representative prototypes for testing before third quarter of fiscal 2019, the RFI says. The first 36 systems should be ready for fielding just over a year later, in late fiscal 2020. Another 36 systems should be delivered in late fiscal 2021.

Whatever systems the contractor chooses – both kinetic and non-kinetic – must be integrated on a Stryker, according to the RFI. Integration onto an existing Stryker reconnaissance variant is listed as the Army’s top selection priority.

It also must work with the Sentinel Radar in its current configuration through the Army’s mission command architecture. The system should therefore integrate with Forward Area Air Defense-Command and Control (FAAD-C2), the Rajant or Terrestrial Transmission Line of Sight (TRILOS) radios and the Rugged Handheld Terminal Unit (RHTU). Additionally, the solution must be interoperable with fielded Situational Awareness displays Air Defense Interrogator (ADI) and Blue Force Tracker (BFT).

The Army specifies further that the IM SHORAD system should have multiple “effectors” including two interceptor types with a basic load of four stinger missiles and four Longbow Hellfire Missiles. It should also mount a .50 caliber gun or larger up to 30mm.

To counter UAS, the system should have an Army fielded electronic warfare weapon.

This interim capability effort is parallel to a formal search for a permanent SHORAD capability, which is listed among the Army’s top modernization priorities. Anticipating the need to protect maneuver units from UAS and other low-altitude aerial threats, several contractors brought SHORAD prototypes to the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual expo in October.

Raytheon [RTN] placed Stinger missiles on a Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS), which itself is mounted on a Stryker. Last month the Army fired Stingers from a Stryker and successfully intercepted airborne targets during a demonstration at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

General Dynamics [GD] has worked with Boeing [BA] to offer a SHORAD option that mixes a Stryker and an Avenger air defense system. They take the back off of a Stryker variant and mount a Boeing-built TWQ-1 Avenger air defense system missile launcher on the back, calling it the Stryker Maneuver/Mobile SHORAD Launcher.

Lockheed Martin [LMT] showed off the capabilities of its Q-53 counter-target acquisition (CTAR or counterfire) radars in a SHORAD mission. The Q-53 is an advanced electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar first fielded in 2010.

BAE Systems also answered the SHORAD call, but chose to mount its own Maneuver-SHORAD option on a Bradley Fighting Vehicle.