HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The Army is taking a hard look at the possibility of accelerating some existing air-and-missile defense programs to keep pace with emerging threats, according to service leaders speaking Tuesday at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium.
Army Space and Missile Defense Command Commander Lt. Gen. David Mann and other senior leaders in missile defense presented the Army vice chief of staff last month with some materiel and non-materiel solutions and recommendations to bridge current AMD capability gaps over the next five years, said Rick DeFatta, the director of the Capability Development and Integration Directorate at the Army's Space and Missile Defense Command's Future Warfare Center.
Mann told the same audience at the symposium that the Army senior leadership is really concerned about "what can you do for me now, what can you do for me tonight based upon the threats that we are facing and so there is a great sense of urgency about looking at what we can do right now."
According to a slide shown at the conference, the Army is looking specifically at the possibility of accelerating the Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC) program as well as the Army's command-and-control element of its future air-and-missile defense system called the Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS).
The IFPC program is being developed in stages with the first version designed to defend against unmanned aircraft systems as well as other air threats such as rotary wing helicopters. The second phase of the program would add the capability to defend against rockets, artillery and mortars.
The Northrop Grumman-made IBCS is expected to reach initial operational capability in 2019. Then the Army will integrate sensors and shooters to create a full missile defense system.
Some of the desired capabilities the Army needs now is 360-degree defense against missile threats, the ability to counter unmanned aircraft, better threat classification and discrimination, protection against electronic attack and integrated fire control, the slide lists.
Army missile defense leaders are also recommending the service invest further in directed energy efforts, focus on surveillance capabilities for applicable combatant commands and continue to sustain investments in the AMD modernization strategy, according to the slide.
Congress and leaders throughout the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Army are looking "very closely" at directed energy, Mann noted, adding right after he was done briefing the vice chief last month, he asked for a directed energy information paper.
In terms of non-materiel solutions, the Army is recommending using Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD) Avengers to support combatant command exercises and Combat Training Center rotations.
The service is also thinking about increasing Army missile defense command and integrated air and missile defense force structure, according to Mann.
The Army will move forward on its C-UAS strategy and implement supporting training plans at the Centers of Excellence, at home station and at CTC rotations as well as updating tactics, techniques and procedures.
Mann added electronic warfare is another area receiving a lot of interest in terms of "how do we ensure that our sensors are able to provide the data that is necessary to prosecute a threat and what I mean by that is if you are able to blind some of our exquisite sensors, whether its Patriot or whatever, that is not a good thing, so there is a lot of interest in looking at passive sensors that basically provide the threat with a lot more challenges in defeating our sensor capability."
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.