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Panel: U.S. Must Invest More in Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense

A target missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii during Flight Test Standard Missile-45. USS John Finn (DDG-113) detected and tracked the target missile with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar using the Aegis Baseline 9.C2 weapon system. US Navy Photo

Rebuilding a U.S. integrated air and missile defense capability, slashed to the bone by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, will not be easy, three former directors of the Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Organization (JIAMDO) said on Monday.

The demand to find the most effective ways to end the killing of soldiers and Marines from improvised explosive devices hit the pause button on joint air and missile defense, retired Army Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, who headed JIAMDO in 2005 to 2006 said.

“What was killing Americans?,” he said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies forum in Washington, D.C.
“It wasn’t missiles.”

The decision to shift emphasis — budget, limited access to the highest levels of Pentagon, downgrade in the rank of the JIAMDO leader over the next 15 years — was about relevancy to answering the immediate threat.

“That pendulum has swung [back] now,” Bromberg said.

For the future of the joint missile defense mission, whatever entity — and all the panelists agreed it needed to be separate, but not necessarily how it is organized, “you have to effective in small chunks. You have to deliver something.” He added the questions come down to “What are you doing today” and “how fast” are you doing it.

Retired Rear Adm. Archer Macy suggested one way to come back from near-extinction, a budget in the $20-million range from $100-million and once headed by a three-star flag officer now a colonel or Navy captain, was to establish “a serious role and mission study” on today’s air and missile threats.

Macy would rank the threats “from speed of effect” — almost instantaneous from cyber and electromagnetic to less than half an hour from “Beijing to Dallas” from a missile to hours from aircraft and days for surface warships.

He said one example of how it could be established comes in how Cyber Command and the National Security Agency operate under a dual-hatted commander and director.

“Air defense is somewhat unique” in the warfare communities, he said. It “defends the homeland” and “forces here and forces and allies overseas, but it “will never win the war.” Air defense provides the means to keep the other warfighting communities fighting.

Picking up on the need for speed, retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Kenneth Todorov said, “That battle space is growing more complex” because there is so little time to assess and react. The decision “loop is getting increasingly tight.”

To handle those changes and the need for speed, there “needs to be an honest broker” when it comes to air and missile defense. “Left to their own devices,” the services “are going to act in their own best interest,” alluding back to Bromberg’s comments. The panelists cited Aegis, Patriot and Theater High Altitude and Area Defense systems as an example of service stove piping.

He also rejected the Missile Defense Agency as being that “honest broker.” These threats are “not at the forefront of [MDA’s] thinking.”

But like the Missile Defense Agency, “you’ve got to have a very short chain” between the very most senior uniform and civilian leaders in the Pentagon.

The “hammer” comes in “how do you influence where the dollars go.” A “clear funding line,” like MDA’s, coupled with that direct access to the top leaders makes the difference. “None of us had the full authority,” Bromberg added.

As to making this entity relevant to industry, Macy said in answer to a question that it was necessary to “communicate what we want the thing to do” without going into a series of details on each part of performance.

“This what I need the result to be” if a hypersonic weapon is used in an attack. “This is coming at me at Mach 7.” A 51 percent solution would be good enough if it turned the hypersonic weapon far enough away from its intended target and not insisting on the weapons’ destruction in writing requirements.

  • thebard3

    Aegis BMD has cleared many of the technical hurdles required to make a system like this work, but I think a larger concern is interoperability needed between branches and different nations’ systems. I think there is already some interoperability between Aegis BMD and THAAD. Multiple platforms can now provide tracking data to other platforms that can provide inteceptors on a launch-and-forget basis, and tracking duties can be shared between other units. Where Aegis BMD is specifically designed to counter ballistic missile threats, it is conceptually similar to that needed to counter JIAMD. That’s not to say that much of the BMD development would transfer seamlessly to JIAMD, only to say that the required hardware and software technology is similar.

    • Ed L

      It’s a good start toward expanding to countering Supersonic and hypersonic attack SSM’s and cruise missiles ( I think this sentence was redundant)

    • Curtis Conway

      The majority of your interoperability is embodied in Link-16. What ever is dreamed up it must be a standard that is readily porting the required data, in a timely fashion, and in a secure manner. Communications will have to be multi-spectrum, multi-path, and robust with instant feedback.

      • RunningBear

        “must be a standard that is readily porting the required data, in a timely fashion, and in a secure manner.”….and Link16 is most definitely not it! A LPD/LPI high bandwidth datalink is a minimum requirement.
        IMHO
        Fly Navy
        🙂

        • airider

          Link-16 is just fine. The JTIDS, MIDS, MIDS-J, etc, are all bandwidth limited, just like every other radio. MIL-STD 6016 is the most common message set out there and can support the mission… using different radios that can support more throughput and/or AJ/AS resistance is an effort that can definitely happen.

          • RunningBear

            I’m sorry but the data available to share with these command/ control systems require more bandwidth (GB/S) than the limited Link16 (KB/S), which is a known bottleneck. Link16 is too slow for Hypersonic weapons.

            Semaphore is effective for it’s function but it is not a replacement for data intense systems that require information for weapons targeting and controls.

            Link16 (960–1,215 MHz) is omni-directional radiating and is easily detected by aggressor EA/EW systems, and facilitates localizing transcievers; where the existing LPD/LPI datalinks in the 2GHz range are typically undetected. Omni-radiating systems (radios, radars, etc.) identify and locate ships, aircraft, vehicles, troops, etc.

            Link16 “was” fine for the 4th Gen aircraft communications with program and launch weapons, but these later weapons are providing both re-direct attack and ISR data-streams to the launch systems.
            IMHO
            Fly Navy
            🙂

          • Curtis Conway

            Photonics my friend, Photonics.

          • airider

            By photonics, I assume you mean wavelengths of light closer to the visible spectrum? There are caps and lims there too.

          • Curtis Conway

            Doesn’t have to be visible. Some lasers are cases in point. Point-to-point, Line of sight, LPD/LPI. With full duplex operations data rate can be very high.

          • airider

            Every time I see someone make a proposal for some new whamodyne system that’s going to solve all the information and interoperability woes of the military services, I have to laugh. I’ve been educated and working in this area for several decades now, and nothing proposed here or elsewhere has solved anything.

            LPD/LPI wave forms are already part of Link-16, as well as other existing radios. What makes the Radio Terminal (JTIDS, MIDS, etc) transmissions easier for enemies to impact is the omni-directional antennas … switch these out for phased array directional antennas and you mitigate a lot of the omni problem

            The reason JTIDS/MIDS throughput is low is because they have so much AJ/AS and EDAC embedded in the signal. This uses a lot more of the bandwidth to do. Part of this is due to the omni directional nature of the transmission and the need to protect the data transmitted, and the other is for long range performance (gotta support the aircraft). You can’t get high throughput at long range unless you use a very directional antenna (see SATCOM). But you do get the critical data throughput at long range with Link-16 because of its design. Change out the antenna for phased array directional and you can back off on the AJ/AS and EDAC and pump more data through.

            Merged sensor data doesn’t need to be shared over the pipe. Each sensors data can have a dedicated pipe and be merged on the receiving platform.

            Link 16 supports BMD engagements and BMD threats are moving faster than hypersonics. The hypersonics problem is similar to the BMD problem, you have to have enough stand off to support an engagement. You won’t win in a tail chase.

            The all knowing mega-database is lost in “the cloud” somewhere. Check with the latest folks promising this … they’ll tell you it’s right around the corner.

            2-5Ghz spectrum has been sold off or is already occupied. Check with the FCC, they’re trying to sell more every day.

            Photonics have the same challenge. Highly directional for high throughput.

            Recommend a course or two in basic communication and radio design, vice just the latest brief proposing a request for new S&T dollars to OPNAV.

          • Curtis Conway

            Those suggested phased array point-to-point antennas are the answer. However, I would really like to see more photonic communications development for point-to-point LOS comms. For Battle Groups at see this is very possible and useful. For a varied topography, probably not so good.
            Passive systems have there place too, but that would obviously be difficult for two-way communications.

          • airider

            Things are continuously being looked at.

          • airider

            Your focusing on the JTIDS/MIDS radio, and trying to compare mil-std 6016 binary messages to all the other crap being jammed on the networks. This isn’t accurate. If you don’t like Omni antennas, then install a directional one instead. None of this hardware tech is “hard” to implement on existing radios and has been available for decades.

          • RunningBear

            Link16 is not going to be replaced overnight. But….adding the high bandwidth data stream LPD/LPI comm. to the existing ships, planes, tanks, artillery will greatly enhance sharing of merged sensor data for greater SA for each node on the networks. For the planes, ships, tanks, artillery; it is a new type of antenna (2-5Ghz) and radio interface to the existing network computer, usually less than 40lbs. (with existing software) each.
            IMHO
            Fly Navy
            🙂

          • RunningBear

            OBTW in a similar article: “By providing a comprehensive baseline of what friendly transmissions
            look like, the mega-database will make it easier for Signals
            Intelligence (SIGINT) and Electronic Warfare (EW) troops to hone in on
            enemy transmissions.”
            Fly Navy
            🙂

        • Curtis Conway

          Like the way you think RunningBear! Communications can take place along many parts of the EM Spectrum, including photonic following the previous rules. Remember, we are NOT using this data to drive a fire control solution. The host platform has to do that. This is tipper information to establish ‘where to send’ the weapon for that final act.

      • thebard3

        You really make me fee stupid with all that technical jibber-jabber. We still used vacuum tubes in my day.

        • Curtis Conway

          Now lets see . . . how was the term ‘Computer Bugs’ developed? I think I heard Admiral Hopper explain it to us during a lecture.

  • Curtis Conway

    I hope they get this one right.

  • airider

    Looks like USNI deleted my post. Not sure why critical comments backed up with constructive inputs on ways to possible improve things get deleted around here … so much for the free exchange of ideas and information.

    • thebard3

      In case you tried to embed a URL, these are not accepted for some reason. You can disguise them by adding spaces or other characters. Otherwise, I think somebody has to report your post for it to be deleted, at least that’s my experience.

      • airider

        Thanks … I knew about the URL bit. This was all just my own thoughts and some history digitally scribbled down in this forum. Oh well, guess I don’t get to share that here with you all.

    • BillyP

      Think yourself lucky that this comment/observation has not also been deleted – all mine are.

  • Marc Apter

    A problem was identified, the problems urgency was identified, but no solution was identified, or even a hint as to what direction should be followed. Comments below discussed technical solutions to one of many unresolved issues. I think the solution is a lean flat organization, with leaders who are not just trying to get their ticket punched, before they run off to their next assignment, and “Leaders”.