By Jason B. Cutshaw, USASMDC/ARSTRAT Public AffairsDecember 20, 2017
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama -- An Army team is laser-focused on improving high-energy technologies to support Soldiers in the field.
The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command Technical Center's Air and Missile Defense Directorate participated in the Maneuver Fires Integration Experiment, or MFIX, hosted at the Fires Center of Excellence, or FCoE, at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Dec. 4-14.
At MFIX, a crew of three air defense Soldiers were able to detect, acquire, track and defeat aerial targets as well as ground targets with USASMDC/ARSTRAT's Mobile Experimental High Energy Laser, or MEHEL, vehicle after a week of training.
"I am very proud of our SMDC and contractor MEHEL team," said Adam Aberle, SMDC High Energy Laser Division technology development and demonstration lead. "They worked very hard pulling the MEHEL system together to support the event and did an exceptional job ensuring that MEHEL was able to support FCoE MFIX objectives."
MEHEL is a laser testbed on a Stryker-armored fighting vehicle chassis and serves as a platform for research and development. The current version of MEHEL has a 5kW laser and other capabilities.
The MEHEL crew demonstrated the ability to defeat UAV targets above and below the horizon in both daylight and low visibility scenarios. The team successfully defeated UAV threats and static mortar round engagements.
"The information we learned in the field will be incorporated into future designs," said Dee Formby, SMDC Tech Center Multi-Mission High Energy Laser lead engineer. "The feedback we took from the Soldiers will help improve the performance and user interface. The Soldiers did a great job and picked up the training quickly and also understood that a more mature version of this system could be beneficial to them in the future."
MEHEL successfully met the objectives of the Fort Sill Battle Lab, validating the improvements made since the prior MFIX, and providing valuable feedback from the users.
The data gathered will allow MEHEL to be used to help develop concept of operations and tactics, techniques and procedures for directed energy systems and inform requirements for future directed energy development efforts.
Besides MFIX, the team said the Army is looking at how to utilize the MEHEL during future exercises in the coming year.