WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s inspector general launched an audit of the Army’s future missile defense plans in August, according to a recent announcement from the office.
“Our objective is to determine whether the Army is developing an affordable Integrated Air and Missile Defense program that can meet all capability requirements and whether these requirements remain valid and meet warfighter needs,” Theresa Hull, assistant inspector general responsible for acquisition, contracting and sustainment, wrote in a memo sent to Pentagon leadership.
The Army has for years been struggling to bring online a new air and missile defense system capable of detecting and defeating incoming threats from 360 degrees.
The service tried years ago to replace its Raytheon-made Patriot air and missile defense system, in operation since the 1980s, with a Lockheed Martin-developed system called the Medium Extended Air Defense System. The U.S. was developing MEADS with Germany and Italy, but withdrew from the program after closing out a successful proof-of-concept phase.
Germany still plans to complete development and produce the system, and Italy is expected to follow suit.
Shifting gears from MEADS, the Army decided to focus on the development of a critical future command-and-control system for an Integrated Air and Missile Defense System (IAMDS) called the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS).
IBCS will tie sensors and shooters together on the battlefield to create a complete IAMD architecture. But the system has been delayed for years, as requirements have been added and more tests and evaluation scheduled to ensure the system is working as envisioned.
The Army has also been trying to acquire a new new state-of-the-art, 360-degree radar for years. It now plans to hold a competition for a future radar to tie into the IAMDS. Four companies were awarded contracts to develop new designs for a radar.
Critics say the service is moving far too slowly to bring a new radar online, as many large defense companies have had readily available 360-degree-capable technology for several years.
Getting its IAMDS right is critical for Army modernization. The service has made air and missile defense one of its top six modernization priorities, which could mean an acceleration of capability development as well as some potential changes to the strategy.
The Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command commander, Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, said in January that the service was planning to come out with a new air and missile defense strategy this summer that addresses emerging changes to strategies, concepts and doctrine over the past several years.
The strategy will focus on the 2018-2028 time frame and align with the National Defense Strategy, the Army’s operating concept and the service’s new doctrinal concept of Multidomain Operations.
The IG does not state how long the audit will take.
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.