Army Counter-Drone System Gets Stryking Makeover

April 30, 2024

By Laura Heckmann | National Defense Magazine

ARLINGTON, Virginia — The Army’s mobile counter-drone program is upgrading by downsizing with a new increment that will move the system from two vehicles into a single Stryker armored fighting vehicle.

The mobile-low, slow, small-unmanned aircraft integrated defeat system, or M-LIDS, currently operates using two mine-resistant ambush-protected all-terrain vehicles, or M-ATVs, which deploy as a pair.

Increment 2.1, initiated in 2022 and currently in development, will bring the system onto a single Stryker vehicle, reducing cost, easing sustainment and increasing reliability, a company official said.

Ed House, senior director of business development for land systems with Leonardo DRS — the lead company of an eight-team coalition behind increment 2.1 — said the push for 2.1 came from the same impetus as previous versions of M-LIDS — an evolving drone threat.

“The program has evolved as the threat has evolved,” having moved from electronic warfare only in previous increments to a full suite of both electronic warfare and kinetic effectors, House said. Increment 2.1 capabilities are “no different” from the two-vehicle M-ATVs — just moved onto one vehicle.

M-LIDS has an onboard radar that detects threats at long ranges and targets them with both electronic warfare and kinetic effectors, he said. When the threat is identified and within range, a gunner selects the type of effector, “whether it’s a missile or a bullet … and then the vehicle commander gives the authorization to engage it with that effector.”

The system is part of a layered defense “out there protecting our soldiers,” House said, bringing ground commanders “multiple opportunities to defeat that threat. But it starts with detection.”

From a soldier’s perspective, the Stryker is a “much better platform” than the M-ATV, House said. The M-ATV served its purpose, but Strykers provide “the size, the power, the weight capacity to support all of the technologies,” and “it’s the right vehicle to take M-LIDS to the next level,” he added.

The move from two vehicles to one will also bring an eight-soldier crew down to four — possibly smaller — on the Stryker, reducing costs associated with training and equipping, House said.

He could not offer specifics on the project’s timeline but said Leonardo is “on contract to deliver two division sets of 2.1.” ND

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