WASHINGTON — The Army is looking at how it can take its largely stovepiped missile systems and make them more modular and adaptable, said to the future fight, the program executive officer for missiles and space.
"The material answer to ‘win in a complex world’ is modularity and adaptability," Brig. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood said Monday today at the Association of the US Army’s annual meeting. "No longer can I afford to buy a piece of equipment that is only good at asymmetric warfare. I have to buy a piece of equipment that I can start at this base capability down here at asymmetric, and build onto it modularity to get it up to a full-spectrum battlespace."
And that is where the Army needs help, he added.
"We need to put our innovative thinking caps on and get into the battlespace where we can use modular skills and modular technologies to advance capabilities and combine them in new and different ways."
The Army's program office for missiles and space is looking at incorporating this goal into future capabilities in several areas.
Thurgood said the Army is continuing to work toward a fiscal 2018 fielding of the brains heart of its air and missile defense system, called the Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS). -- considered the brains of the system. Northrop Grumman is the program’s contractor.
"For many years, like we do today, you can go out and shoot the Avenger and it doesn't really talk to anything else, it looks out with its radar and shoots its missile. ... The Patriot does the same thing today," Thurgood said. "We have to get past that."
The Army wants to get to a point where it can use any sensor or any shooter optimal missile to take out a wide variety of threats, Thurgood said.
When IBCS is fielded it will be "the decisive point," Thurgood said. IBCS will be able to connect with any launcher, radar, missile combination seamlessly.
This translates to taking "better shots, more cost-effective shots in the right geometry of the battlespace," he added.
The Army is nearing the end of an analysis of alternatives for the lower-tier air and missile defense capability that will provide insight on how the service should move forward in procuring a new radar for integrated air and missile defense that brings 360 degree views of the battlespace.
Preliminary results of the analysis AOA are expected in December with a full report "some time in February," Col. John Eggert, the program manager for the lower tier project office, said.
The Army also looked at possible launchers, as part of the AOA, he added.
The service has also built two prototypes for a multimission launcher for its next-generation Avenger mobile air and missile defense system called the Integrated Fire Protection Capability (IFPC), Thurgood said.
Several missiles have already been fired from the prototype launcher such as an AIM 9X Sidewinder missile that Raytheon builds, a miniature hit-to-kill missile and Raytheon’s Accelerated Improved Interceptor Initiative AI3 missile. The service plans soon to shoot more missiles, such as Lockheed Martin’s Hellfire, and Stinger missiles, according to Thurgood.
"What is unique about the IFPC program is that for years in the air defense community we bought a system that did one thing, it shot one kind of missile like the Hawk, like the Stinger shooting off of Avenger. We have really migrated past that technology," he added.
The multimission launcher that the Army is building has 15 tubes, which can load a variety of missiles.
Thurgood called on industry to bring missiles to the Army for testing with the launcher, offering to enter into cooperative research-and-development agreements with interested companies "to get those missiles shot off those platforms to help the Army make informed choices."