WASHINGTON — The first wave of defenses designed to counter sophisticated missile threats against Guam, including radars, launchers, interceptors and a command and control system, will be deployed on the island next year, the head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said. said this week.
MDA requested more than $800 million in its 2024 budget request, released Monday, to develop and begin construction of its architecture to defend Guam against a range of threats, including ballistic, cruise and hypersonic missiles. Almost half of this money would be used for architectural design and development.
Another $38.5 million would enhance MDA’s command and control, battle management and communications program to support the defense of Guam.
The agency invests in architecture, but it also partners with the army and navy. The Navy provides technology and capabilities for its Aegis weapon system and has jurisdiction over the land area where the asset is deployed.
The Army could not easily fund its top share of FY24 funding needed to deliver its share of the equipment to Guam, but it will deliver three lower-tier air and missile defense sensors, or LTAMDS sensors, and a selection of Mids. -range missile launchers and indirect fire protection capability launchers, or IFPCs, and the Northrop Grumman-built Integrated Battle Command System, designed to connect the right sensors to the right shooters on the battlefield, according to the Army Budget Office.
The Army plans to acquire a total of five LTAMDS in FY24; the other two are test vehicles, Army acquisition chief Doug Bush said this week.
While MDA waits for the military’s capability to arrive, it is adapting the Aegis system to operate specifically in Guam’s challenging terrain, agency director Jon Hill said this week. He said the system differs from the Aegis vessel and the configuration of the Aegis Ashore sites in Romania and Poland.
The FY24 funding covers the installation of four state-of-the-art, solid-state, mobile AN/TPY-6 radars. They are new sensors that use technology from the Long Range Discrimination Radar at Clear Space Force Base, Alaska. Shin. Those radars provide a 360-degree capability to see threats, Hill said, a requirement that comes directly from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
The agency is struggling with the engineering required to take probes that would typically be housed in a ship’s deckhouse or a large facility like the one in Alaska and place them on an erectable trailer so they can be moved, Hill said at the 15th McAleese & Associates conference.
MDA is also developing a command suite that uses command, control, combat control and communications system technology that combines IBCS and Aegis C2 to detect and track ballistic and hypersonic missile threats.
Although the first stream of capacity will arrive on the island in 2024, Hill said development will continue as technology becomes available. Hill stressed that architecture will never have an original ability to act, because the ability is always evolving.
For example, when the MDA launches a hypersonic glide phase interceptor, it is attached to the architecture. That effort is very early and won’t be realized until the early 2030s, Hill said. So far, the ability to defeat hypersonic missiles in the terminal phase of flight exists with current research and the capabilities of the US Navy.
The agency faces plenty of challenges as it begins building architecture on Guam.
“The challenge right now is location,” Hill said. “We have all the sites on the island, and today we know what the military sites are, we know what the MDA sites are. It’s a Navy island.”
But he said there are environmental considerations. “When you think about what we have to do for environmental assessments, just to get down to this gear, it takes time to factor into the equation. … Guam is a tourist island.”
Cleaning the sites is also difficult, including the need to clear bamboo and level the ground, Hill explained. “Guam has a boatload of spent munitions from World War II,” so part of the effort includes digging to make sure no munitions are buried, he added.
Other challenging aspects include taking into account possible electromagnetic disturbances on the island, as well as the effect of ground radars on, for example, flight operations, including medevac helicopters arriving and departing from the area.
The agency is also committed to beautification as part of the Guam installation. “We’re going to make the launchers look pretty, and we’re going to put big bubbles on top of the probes so they don’t look so deadly because it’s a tourist area,” Hill said.
Banking in the military
Much of the architecture is also based on military capability, which is in the process of development. The service is close to being approved for full production by IBCS after years of delay.
The Army’s LTAMDS has also struggled with development and has seen several scheduling errors. Raytheon Technologies ran into problems building the first prototypes designed to replace Patriot air defense radars. The LTAMDS program had to modify the schedule based on system integration challenges and supply chain problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Last fall, the service’s goal was to deliver four of them by the end of 2023.
The MRC capability, due to enter service in 2023, has made more progress, and late last year Lockheed Martin delivered the first Typhon launch vehicle to the Army late last year, which uses the Navy MK41 Vertical Launching System, which fires both ground-launched SM-6 missiles and Tomahawks. cruise missiles.
The Army selected Leidos-owned Dynetics to build IFPC prototypes for a durable system designed to counter both drone and cruise missile threats in 2021.
When Dynetics was awarded, the Army wanted the company to deliver prototypes by the last quarter of FY22 and a complete system that can be integrated with the IBCS by the third quarter of FY23.
Dynetics has been tight-lipped about progress, but according to the FY24 Army budget request, the service plans to deliver the IFPC to the first team sometime this year. The production decision of the IFPC is also scheduled to be made during the year 24 according to the budget documents for the year 23.
For now, Guam is protected from the threats that exist today, Hill said. The island has a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system and Patriot systems that protect against ballistic missile threats. Aegis ships patrol the area, but it’s not a permanent solution.
Jen Judson is an award-winning reporter covering the ground war for Defense News. He has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. He holds a Master’s degree in Journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.