Archive for the 'BMD' Tag
Of all the missions the Surface Navy does, Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) might be the least sexy. It involves sitting in a small box in the middle of the ocean for weeks, usually far away from land or even any commercial shipping traffic. Ships on station need to be in a specific engineering and combat systems configuration at all times so they can track or engage a target at a moments notice. This means there aren’t many opportunities for training, ship handling, gun shoots, swim calls, and other evolutions. Sometimes, a poor middle-of-the-ocean satellite uplink makes the internet unusable, and “River City” could be set (meaning the internet is turned off completely) for bandwidth constraints or upholding Operational Security (OPSEC) due to mission sensitivities. Depending on the ship’s heading and location, TV-DTS (the Navy’s satellite TV connection) could go down as well. Hopefully the seas aren’t rough, because there’s little chance to get a modified location (MODLOC) to divert for better weather. If it’s a nice day, fishing from the fantail seems to be the most exciting thing to do; although there never seems to be much luck in getting a catch (it seems most fish know how to avoid the BMD box at all costs). Forget port calls, but even when ships aren’t on station, they could still be on a formal or informal “tether” which prevents them from going anywhere too far away from the BMD Theater (yes that means no Australia!).
Every now and then I get a chance to reach escape velocity from my day job and do something really fun or different. Recently that entailed presenting a BMD overview to a couple of classes that were part of the Naval War College’s Non-Resident Seminar program (of which YHS is a graduate). And like any good presenter these days, one needs a brief – so, ecce:
From China today comes news today of a successful missile intercept test:
“BEIJING (AP) — China announced that its military intercepted a missile in mid-flight Monday in a test of new technology that comes amid heightened tensions over Taiwan and increased willingness by the Asian giant to show off its advanced military capabilities. The official Xinhua News Agency reported late Monday that ”ground-based midcourse missile interception technology” was tested within Chinese territory. ”The test has achieved the expected objective,” the three-sentence report said. ”The test is defensive in nature and is not targeted at any country.” Monday’s report follows repeated complaints in recent days by Beijing over the sale by the U.S. of weaponry to Taiwan, including PAC-3 air defense missiles. These sales are driven by threats from China to use force to bring the island under its control, backed up by an estimated 1,300 Chinese ballistic missiles positioned along the Taiwan Strait.”
Of course China doesn’t do anything without some express purpose, and to that end we would note that today is the 3rd anniversary of the infamous ASAT test, conducted on 11 January 2007. Infamous, because of the on-orbit debris field it generated and near universal condemnation it engendered. So find ourselves three years later and coincident with that date and the announcement by the US of plans to go ahead with the sale of PAC-3 batteries to Taiwan as a (small) partial counter to the hundreds of SRBMs China has deployed.
Interesting times, eh?
A program update on the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye was provided today at the AEW and Battle Management conference in Amsterdam. Providing the update was Northrop-Grumman’s VP for AEW &BM C2 programs, Jim Culmo and Hawkeye/Greyhound Program Manager, CAPT Shane Gahagan, USN.
Culmo noted that the company is on-track to deliver three pilot production E-2Ds to the U.S. Navy in 2010 and that manufacturing of the first two Low-Rate Initial Production aircraft is also progressing well. “We’re exceedingly pleased with where we are in the flight test program,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Shane Gahagan, Hawkeye Greyhound program manager. “The AN/APY-9 radar is performing very well and will bring to the fleet a significantly increased ability to operate in a highly cluttered environment while providing critical 360-degree coverage.”
The E-2D was designed to provide the warfighter with enhanced capabilities required to meet emerging threats such as low-flying ASCMs in the high clutter near- and overland environment. With the newly developed AN/APY-9 Electronic Scan Array (ESA) radar, Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) system, Electronic Support Measures (ESM), and off-board sensors, in concert with surface combatants equipped with the Aegis combat system, the E-2D will have the capability to detect, track, and defeat cruise missile threats at extended ranges. It will also provide unparalleled maritime domain awareness including airspace control for manned and unmanned assets, monitoring of surface movements, civil support, and command and control of tactical forces.
The combined radar modes work together to provide continuous, 360-degree air and surface scanning capability, allowing flight operators to focus the radar on select areas of interest. “The AN/APY-9 can ‘see’ smaller targets and more of them at a greater range than currently fielded radar systems,” Culmo said. He added that the E-2D’s systems, including radar long-range detection, “are exceeding key performance specifications.”
Which brings me to a point of interest. Given the direction MDA is headed in expanding our BMD capabilities at the theater and regional levels by looking at alternative platforms and capabilities – such as ISR assets like UAVs to improve I&W, perhaps it ought to widen the aperture a bit and look at the capabilities the E-2D is bringing to the fight? One of the hallmarks of missile defense is the wide-ranging field of play within which the threat is engaged. As such, BMD cannot be platform-centric since we re fast approaching the point where the interceptors will outrange their supporting sensors (when launched from the same platform). Instead, BMD, especially the sea-based adjunct, will become a complex fire control system made up of netted sensors and shooters.
Now, look again at the quote above – “The combined radar modes work together to provide continuous, 360-degree air and surface scanning capability, allowing flight operators to focus the radar on select areas of interest.” That is the advantage of an ESA. The ability to manage the radar energy is literally light years ahead of what we had in the E-2C. In a theater fight, it makes me wonder what capabilities it might bring for detNorthrop Grummanection of mobile platforms and the launch/boost phase of SR/MRBMs — what capabilities the E-2D’s advanced networking might bring to networking shooters that are BVR of one another and yet not dependent on what are becoming increasingly vulnerable satellite-based networks.
To be sure, the dance card for the Advanced Hawkeye is likely already crowded and on a relative scale, advanced cruise missiles are a greater threat in a larger sense to US and allied naval forces – for now. Nevertheless, it would pay huge dividends down the road if we found a nascent BMD capability already resident in the system, or, one that could be coaxed forth with relatively smaller expenditures of capital. The force multiplier effect in combination with sea- and eventually, shore-based Aegis BMD could conceivably pay huge dividends.
How about it MDA? Navy?
(Source: Northrop Grumman)
Crossposted at steeljawscribe.com
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