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Army Pushes To Upgrade Missile Defense Systems

by Kris Osborn on October 22, 2013

THAAD2The U.S. Army released a paper Tuesday that outlined how the service must invest in missile defense systems to bolster its ability to support the Navy and Air Force-led Air Sea Battle operating concept.

The Air-Sea Battle operating concept is a method of countering anticipated global technological trends wherein potential adversaries’ use of advanced weaponry could make it more difficult for the U.S. to project power.

In particular, things like longer-range ballistic missiles with varying degrees of precision guidance, more sophisticated air defenses, and jamming technologies make it harder for Navy ships and planes to operate in coastal areas of strategically important waterways.

The Sept. 25 paper, titled “The Army’s Role in Countering Anti-Access and Area Denial: Support to Air-Sea Battle,” articulates a series of potential investment strategies designed to assist the core tenets of Air-Sea Battle. Military​.com obtained a copy of the paper.

Army officials said their service can complement and integrate with Navy and Air Force strategies to gain and preserve access to strategically vital ports and waterways, the paper explains. Gen. Vincent Brooks, the U.S. Army Pacific commanding general, said Monday at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting and exposition that the Air-Sea Battle concept applies to an environment and not to specific services.

The Army paper states that the service could protect “critical infrastructure nodes” through theater-wide integrated air and missile defense.

“Ground-based systems add persistency in the provision of early warning to and protection of critical assets that is not always attainable with air and maritime assets,” the paper states.

Specifically, the Army paper recommends development, procurement and investment in systems like Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile system.

“THAAD would provide the upper tier of a layered defense shield to protect high value strategic or tactical sites,” the paper states.

The Army paper also calls for the development of a land-based anti-ship ballistic missile, directed energy capability, and additional land-based anti-ship fires capabilities such as the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System.

The Army calls for increased fielding of THAAD Patriot and the Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS, a technology which delivers precision fires against stationary or slow-moving targets at ranges up to 300 km., the paper cites.

Specifically, the paper suggests upgrading the M57 ATACMS with an active radar guidance system and in-flight communications uplink. In addition, the Army sees value in developing a precision ballistic missile in the 1000 km. class to provide land-based deep strike capability. Authors of the paper maintain directed energy applications could successfully defend against unmanned aerial systems, aircraft, cruise and ballistic missile systems.

Officials who wrote the paper support a potential adaptation of the RGM-84 Harpoon and calls for the development of boost-glide entry warheads able to deploy “to hold adversary shipping at risk all without ever striking targets inland.”

“Boost-glide weapons use rocket-boosted payload delivery vehicles that glide at hypersonic speeds in the atmosphere. An increase in the Army’s investment in boost-glide technology now could fast track the Army’s impact in the Air-Sea Battle fight in the near term,” the paper states.

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