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Army Magazine >> Army Magazine Archive >> ARMY Magazine - December 2002 >> Developing the Technology and Systems for Globally Integrated Air and Missile Defense Email this... Email    Print this Print

Developing the Technology and Systems for Globally Integrated Air and Missile Defense

The art of warfare is undergoing a paradigm shift. Today, the most significant military threat to our national existence may not be from another superpower. As the world continues to evolve into an ever less secure environment, our potential adversaries will continue to seek asymmetrical means of overcoming our technology and military might. One means of asymmetrical attack on the United States or our interests is through the use of unmanned aerospace threats, such as ballistic or cruise missiles. When employed with warheads containing weapons of mass destruction, such missiles may impose a psychological impact far in excess of their military tactical, operational or strategic value. For example, a determined adversary could use the threat of a limited nuclear missile attack on U.S. soil, delivered either by conventional means, such as intercontinental ballistic missile, or delivered by unorthodox means, such as a cruise missile from a freighter in international waters near the U.S. coast, to restrict a U.S. response to theater aggression. Likewise, this determined adversary could threaten regional countries with attacks using weapons of mass destruction to persuade them to deny U.S. forces staging and over-flights to generate theater combat power.

To counter such potential asymmetric attacks, the United States must develop, deploy and employ a globally integrated air and missile defense capability that enables a seamless response from theater through homeland defense. This seamless defense would allow the strategic freedom to respond to tactical situations by denying our adversary asymmetric political leverage through the threat of using weapons of mass destruction in regional areas or against the U.S. homeland. Such a defensive capability would enable decentralized execution to be responsive to tactical and operational situations while also providing national and strategic resources to support theater operations and protect regional and homeland infrastructure.

A key participant in the development of such a globally integrated, seamless air and missile defense capability is the U.S. Army’s program executive officer (PEO) Air and Missile Defense (AMD)/deputy commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC). This dual-hatted Army major general provides key leadership for technology development and research, system development, fielding and sustaining of our AMD capabilities. The Army approach for developing and fielding capabilities that enable the globally integrated AMD war fight is to use an incremental spiral development process that optimizes the contributions of these two organizations. Legacy systems, such as Patriot, will be adapted through product improvement programs and sustained through recapitalization efforts to leverage investments. Emerging systems, such as theater high altitude air defense (THAAD), will be transformed in design. Future systems, such as the medium extended air defense system (MEADS), will exploit emerging technologies to enable leap-ahead transformation during AMD modernization. The ability to quickly move leap-ahead technology from the technology base to weapons implementation and fielding under the same individual is a unique feature of the PEO-AMD/SMDC relationship.

Successful integration of diverse geographical and technical capabilities, which will be represented in the globally integrated AMD architecture, requires tools and techniques to gather, process, understand and disseminate unambiguous information. The first building block for accomplishing this is the single integrated air picture (SIAP). Its objective is to provide precise aerospace situational data sufficient for the functional process being supported to enable all nodes in the network to be acting upon an identically understood situation. SIAP’s aim is to provide a single network track on each aerospace object of interest, with sufficiently defined parameters associated with that track to enable proper decisions. The SIAP will be filterable and scalable to support the operational needs within a theater at local nodes while also allowing for integration of a more global view at higher levels of command.

A globally integrated AMD architecture will have three functional components: weapons, sensors, and command and control. PEO AMD is developing systems and SMDC is exploiting technologies in each of these functional areas.

Weapons are used to achieve effective defense in depth, from the lowest tactical level to the defense of our homeland. The ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) system will provide a precision-guided interceptor to destroy ballistic missiles threatening our homeland. The current GMD interceptor is a hit-to-kill technology interceptor. Site construction has begun in Alaska for fielding a test bed with a limited operational capability test site by 2005.

An emerging technology which may be exploited to enhance the effectiveness of GMD interceptors is being matured in the miniature kill vehicle (MKV) program. MKV replaces the large unitary kill vehicle with multiple small kill vehicles. An MKV-equipped interceptor would be capable of destroying multiple objects within a cloud of objects associated with a ballistic missile attack, whether those objects were actual warheads, decoys or debris, thus overcoming challenging discrimination issues associated with a single large kill vehicle.

Patriot advanced capability 3 (PAC-3), THAAD and MEADS provide a two-tier, layered missile defense capability to defeat ballistic missiles in a deployed theater or region. PAC-3 and MEADS also provide a robust capability to defeat the emerging manned and unmanned air breathing threat. Patriot, first fielded in 1984 as a revolutionary air defense system, has initiated fielding of its latest evolutionary development step, PAC-3, which provides a new hit-to-kill interceptor and a more than fivefold increase in ballistic missile defense capabilities compared to the Patriot system that was employed during Operation Desert Storm. THAAD will provide the capability to defeat short and medium-range ballistic missiles. MEADS will begin to replace Patriot early in the next decade, providing the maneuver force AMD capabilities that are more lethal, survivable, sustainable and deployable than Patriot. Low cost interceptors exploit emerging technologies to offer AMD forces a cost efficient alternative to using expensive active seeker missiles, such as PAC-3, to kill most cruise missiles at extended, over-the-horizon ranges.

Our short-range air defense (SHORAD) forces are modernizing from a Stinger-based force to a force consisting of a combination of kinetic and directed energy weapons. The surface launched advanced medium range air-to-air missile will provide initial extended battlespace capabilities in SHORAD in 2007. The mobile theater high energy laser program will provide initial prototypes of a directed energy compliment that will enable AMD forces to expand their target set to provide maneuver forces protection against rockets and artillery and mortar shells. Directed energy weapons, likely to be based upon solid-state technology, offer scalable effects for both non-lethal and lethal responses to threats. Millimeter wave radars employing interferometric techniques will provide precision tracking for engagement of rockets, artillery and mortars at shorter ranges.

Weapons will be enabled and supported by sensors providing precision data at extended ranges. The joint land attack cruise missile defense elevated netted sensors program will provide elevated sensors to support surveillance and fire control functions in a deployed theater beginning in 2008. This capability will expand to provide wider area coverage with greater efficiencies. High altitude airship technologies may be leveraged to provide region-wide, long endurance coverage in support of theater, regional and netted global defenses. Next generation radar will provide long range, precise detection and tracking of ballistic missiles to provide commanders with longer reaction times and more options in defeating these threats.

Intelligence must not only be gathered, but it must be processed and disseminated in a timely manner to enable key decisions to be effective. The joint tactical air-to-ground system (JTAGS) provides theater early warning for passive defense, cues that enable active defense radars to achieve precision tracks earlier and coordinates to enable offensive operations to destroy enemy ballistic missile launch capabilities, leveraging national satellite capabilities. JTAGS is being upgraded to incorporate the multimission mobile processor, which will enable more precise reporting at greatly reduced timelines. The tactical exploitation of national capabilities tactical exploitation system provides space-based products to operational-level commanders to enable them to see and understand first and set conditions, time and place for decisive operations.

Not all of SMDC’s efforts are focused on providing technologies for future systems. The Space and Missile Defense Battle Lab works closely with user communities to identify problems and deficiencies that the warfighter is experiencing today. The battle lab then identifies and integrates existing technologies to provide the warfighter with solutions to today’s problems that work in the joint environment. An excellent example of this is the rapid deployment of the future operation capability tactical operations center in support of the 1st Air Force homeland defense mission.

Technology must be demonstrated and tested before being placed in the hands of the warfighter. PEO AMD/
SMDC leverages both formal test and evaluation processes and informal validation opportunities to ensure that technologies being provided will accomplish their intended purpose. Operational exercises, such as Roving Sands and Millennium Challenge, provide an opportunity to assess concepts and technologies in the environment where they are most likely to be employed.

Achieving a globally integrated AMD capability is a daunting challenge. The Army is leading the way in meeting this challenge through aggressive exploitation of technologies and validation through testing and operational exercises. Our transforming Army must be provided freedom from third dimensional threats to assure that our forces can win quickly at minimum cost anywhere, anytime.

MAJ. GEN. JOHN M. URIAS serves as the program executive officer for air and missile defense and as the deputy commanding general for research, development and acquisition for U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command. He also serves as deputy for systems acquistion for tactical exploitation of the National Capabilities Programs and head of contracting activity.