WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army wants a new surface-to-air missile to provide capability to counter rockets, artillery and mortars, as well as provide residual cruise missile defense and defend against drones, according to the service and fiscal 2019 budget request documents.
The missile the Army is calling the Expanded Mission Area Missile, or EMAM, will be the second interceptor qualified for the Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2 program, or IFPC Inc. 2, which has been in development to counter threats from rockets, artillery and mortars for years.
The service has had to shift priorities to deal with rapidly proliferating drone and cruise missile threats. The drone threat in particular runs rampant, and the cheap and easily accessible systems have been employed by terrorist groups, peer adversaries and in between in conflicts from the Middle East to Eastern Europe.
The Army has existing air defense systems — such as Avenger and the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System — but they are not designed to handle the threats IFPC will be able to address, particularly unmanned aircraft systems.
The service has already chosen one interceptor for the system — the AIM-9X Sidewinder missile. But since IFPC will feature a multimission launcher, or MML, the Army wants to qualify a variety of interceptors for the system over time.
Lots of options for other interceptors are on the table. The service has fired a wide variety of interceptors in tests with its MML such as the Hellfire Longbow, Stinger, miniature hit-to-kill missiles and the Israeli Tamir interceptor. The Army will also try out directed energy against UAS targets as part of the program.
The Army plans to spend $519.7 million from FY18 through FY23 using a block acquisition approach to bring IFPC Inc. 2 capability online.
The first block consists of an existing interceptor and sensor, as well as development of fire-control software and the MML to defeat UAS and cruise missile threats. The second block will be compatible with the Army’s future Integrated Air-and-Missile Defense command-and-control system, and this block will get a second interceptor, according to the FY19 budget request documents.
A total of $51 million will fund the integration of the new EMAM interceptor into the MML, the budget documents state.
The Army initiated a competitive solicitation in March 2017 using special transaction authorities. Based on evaluation of whitepapers, the Army chose three vendors to be eligible for a contract award, the service said in a statement sent to Defense News.
The vendors, while not named, have been notified of their selection and have been asked for full cost proposals, the Army said.
“The EMAM Product Office plans to award funds for the integration and testing of the second interceptor utilizing a two-phased approach with a demonstration of interceptors from multiple vendors during phase one with a down-select to a single vendor for phase two,” the budget request documents read. “Phase two will consist of activities to finalize design and integration of the interceptor and conduct developmental testing.”
In early FY19, the Army will select the “best value” solution to proceed to a preliminary design review stage, the service said in the statement.
The Army plans to make an engineering and manufacturing development, or EMD, decision in the first quarter of FY20. The EMD phase will run through to the first quarter of FY23.
A production decision is due in FY23 with low-rate initial production running through FY24. The service expects to reach an initial operational capability in the fourth quarter of FY23, the budget documents show.
IFPC Inc. 2 Block 1 will see a limited user test in the fourth quarter of FY19. Then there will be a production decision in the second quarter of FY20 and an initial operational test and evaluation starting in the second quarter of FY21, and ending in the third quarter. The first block will reach initial operational capability in the third quarter of FY21.
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.