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DoD Finds Cruise Missile Defense 'Gaps'
A Pentagon assessment of the U.S. capability to defend the homeland against incoming enemy cruise missiles has found what it calls “capability gaps” that may not be solved until 2015.
As a result, the Air Force's directorate of operational capability requirements is leading a Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System study “to determine the best approaches for mitigating high-risk joint gaps in the [Homeland Air and Cruise Missile Defense of North America] mission area,” according to an Aug. 9 request for information posted on Federal Business Opportunities.
Officials from the Army and Navy counterpart organizations, as well as the Air Force's Air Combat Command, the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command are also taking part, according to an Air Force official.
In May, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council directed the Air Force to lead a so-called “Functional Solutions Analysis (FSA) for Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD),” to include the Homeland Air and Cruise Missile Defense of North America. The following month, the Air Force Requirements for Operational Capability Council approved the “FSA Study Plan,” which included a “call for concepts” via an RFI, the Air Force official tells Inside Missile Defense.
“We are soliciting ideas for materiel approaches from industry to address the high priority capability gaps identified in a Functional Needs Analysis (FNA) accomplished by the joint services and combatant commands,” the RFI reads. “As a part of this study, we also solicit inputs for Non-Materiel approaches that may be known by you to solve or mitigate these capability gaps.”
The Army, along with the other services and combatant commands, led the FNA, which took place from March 2005 through September 2005, according to the Air Force official.
Materiel solutions involve weapons, platforms, communications systems, etc., while non-materiel approaches could involve “recommended changes or improvements to doctrine, organization, training, leadership and education, personnel and facilities governed by joint instructions,” the service official said.
Pentagon and Missile Defense Agency officials increasingly are concerned with the threat of terrorists using a cargo ship to fire cruise and ballistic missiles just off U.S. shores but outside its territorial waters.
“I am concerned about that,” MDA Director Lt. Gen. Trey Obering said at a breakfast with reporters in July 2005. Lockheed Martin is proposing an architecture of Patriot missile batteries and Aegis systems to protect the United States against Scuds fired offshore, he explained.
“We have also taken steps to upgrade certain [continental U.S.]-based radars to provide a coverage against an asymmetric threat,” Obering added. “We are looking at other alternatives that will provide coverage and would provide some protection.”
In August 2004, MDA provided a target to the Israeli Arrow program during an intercept test off the coast of California where a Scud target missile was launched from an ocean-going platform.
“It was not hard,” Obering said last year. “It was very easy to do. It was not technically challenging to do.”
When asked how that compares to a cruise missile, Obering said: “The thing about cruise missiles is we have a capability to shoot them down today. As long as we can detect them. We don't have the capability over wide areas to do that with ballistic missiles.”
According to the RFI released last week, the “Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) FNA identified capability gaps in both proficiency and sufficiency out to the year 2015.” The proposed Air Force JCIDS study will address nine of those gaps.
In addressing those gaps, potential respondents are asked to consider three scenarios:
· “A 9/11 type terrorist hijacking of an airliner within the continental United States.
· “A general aviation aircraft loaded with weapons of mass destruction which launches from a Canadian airport and is headed for the continental United States.
· “A rogue maritime platform fires a cruise missile off the coast of Maryland targeting a major metropolitan area.”
The first capability gap the joint study identified is that North American Aerospace Defense Command mission analysts tend to not get the right information from different sources to obtain a “common operating picture” tailored to their individual needs, according to the RFI.
“What materiel/non-materiel approaches are you aware of that could provide an air defense analyst with 1) automatically fused information 2) specific sources or data formats in a multilevel security network-centric environment, and how they are handled?” the RFI asks.
The second capability gap has to do with insufficient surveillance coverage of NORAD's area of operations, along with endurance shortcomings in operating in all weather conditions “by the current or planned Wide Area Air Surveillance Family of Systems (FoS),” according to the request.
“What materiel/non-materiel approaches are you aware of for wide-area air surveillance and what is their mobility/flexibility with respect to deployment?” the RFI asks, also requesting the listing of “any capability, even if the capability is not yet fully operational, identifying known coverage modes, associated strengths and challenges. Are we maximizing the capability of those systems?”
The third capability gap involves an inability to detect small, low-speed, low-altitude targets. The military also “cannot adequately protect joint maneuver/maneuvering forces from reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) and the full array of potential aerial threats, including rockets, artillery and mortar (RAM) projectiles,” the request for information states.
“What materiel/non-materiel approaches are you aware of that could partially or fully mitigate any or all of these limitations?” the RFI asks. “For approaches identified in Gap 2, provide details on the predicted and measured performance of the sensors against small, high-speed and small, low and slow targets as well as the percent of that resource needed to maintain track.”
The fourth capability gap involves the “current or planned Wide Area Air Surveillance” family of systems' inability to automatically fuze the information they obtain into a common operating picture in a way that NORAD analysts can use effectively, according to the RFI. “For example, when air defense analysts encounter a suspect air or cruise missile target, they desire a single presentation of sensor information within the NORAD common operating picture.”
Consequently, the Air Force wants to know, “what sensor fusing capabilities (including but not limited to magnitude of data, types of sensors and data, number of sensors, latency and bandwidth of data, and visualization/output capability) are you aware of that could provide air defense analysts with automatically fused data (identify analyst interface and actions) from current and planned sources in a multisecurity-level, network-centric environment?”
The fifth capability gap identified by the joint services and combatant commands involves the current air defense sensors' inability to reliably provide adequate tracking information -- such as type, tail number, nation of origin, flight plan, etc. -- of an incoming aircraft or cruise missile.
“What capabilities or materiel/non-materiel approaches are you aware of that can provide identification data (identify levels of identification and reliability for each level) for air and cruise missile vehicles (any airborne vehicle)?” the RFI asks, while requesting that respondents “include cueing/input assumptions and provide [a] timeline.”
The sixth capability gap has to do with air defense sensors' inability to determine or predict the intent of an aircraft or cruise missile with 100 percent reliability, according to the RFI.
“What classification capabilities are you aware of to determine the intent of airborne vehicles and/or to predict the actions of an air and cruise missile vehicle and crew (psychological, cultural, or criminal profile etc.)?” the RFI asks.
The seventh capability gap involves an inability by the current and planned family of sensor systems to provide senior military officials with enough information to make an adequate “engagement decision recommendation” -- i.e. whether to engage a target using lethal or non-lethal force, continue to monitor it, etc.
“What assessment capabilities are you aware of that could be provided to a decision-maker operating in a time-critical environment and how is this transferred/portrayed to a decision-maker?” the RFI asks.
The eighth capability gap identified by the joint study involves the inadequate supply of information to NORAD analysts from other government agencies. “The Homeland Air Cruise Missile Defense system is unable to support decision-makers with the requisite accuracy of information to assess NORAD Homeland Air Cruise Missile Defense events with 100 percent reliability,” the request for information states.
“What information/mission services or planning capability can your organizations provide that shortens the time required to prepare accurate information for decision-making?” the Air Force asks. “How can assessments be made uniformly characterized across disparate sensors, and how does the capability handle future data inputs?”
The final capability gap involves not having enough weapons-delivery platforms available to cover the North American continent, according to the RFI, and even then, many of the available platforms are unable to “negate advanced cruise missiles and other irregular platforms.”
“What approaches/tools are you aware of that could assist decision makers in selecting/tasking the most efficient combination of capability to defeat an air and cruise missile threat and what is the level of analyst involvement?” the Air Force asks in the RFI.
In addressing these gaps, material or non-material approaches proposed by respondents to the RFI can look at solutions at the system -- “integrated solution for a major capability gap”; component -- “a fix for a specific shortfall described in the capability gap”; or functional -- “a contributing capability but insufficient in and of itself to either fix a major capability gap or fix a specific shortfall within a capability gap” -- levels, according to the Air Force.
Responses to the RFI are due by Sept. 29, according to the FedBizOpps notice. Analysis of those responses will run approximately four to six months, according to the Air Force official.
Developing a robust capability to intercept a cruise missile launched from a ship offshore is “very controversial around town,” with some believing a more likely scenario would be terrorists smuggling a weapon of mass destruction in a container cargo ship into a U.S. port, according to Ben Stubenberg, chief of analysis and scenarios at MDA.
However, the threat of a missile attack from commercial vessels off the coast “is something we need to worry about very much,” he said April 28 at a conference sponsored by Defense News.
Offshore bombardment “is not something new historically,” Stubenberg said. “Ever since the cannon was invented and they put those cannons and rockets and so forth on ships, this has been a problem.”
The challenge for the United States is that its long coast and dependence on shipping are among the factors that render it vulnerable to seaborne attack, he said.
U.S. Strategic Command chief Gen. James Cartwright had a similar take on the issue earlier this year.
Looking at cruise missile defense as merely defending a small footprint like an airport is too narrow a focus, the Marine Corps general told attendees of a March 20 missile defense conference sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
“To me, one of the key attributes that we have to start to pick up in cruise missile defense is to move from point defense to area defense,” Cartwright said. “If you don't move this to area defense, the solution is unaffordable -- you cannot do a point defense for every place in the United States and you certainly can't do a point defense for every place that our forces go or that our allies are.”
Cartwright advocated thinking about cruise missile defense in the same way that ballistic missile defense is considered and analyzed.
“That has not really been where our focus has led us over the past few years,” he said. “We've got to change that; we've got to focus in on the area capability. Most of our weapon systems on the weapons end of this equation have substantially greater range than the sensors that we're using to employ this. You've got to move from the sensor grid to an area grid.”
While he acknowledged the technological challenge such an undertaking represents, “we've already started down that path in command and control and sensors for ballistic missiles,” Cartwright said in March. “To throw that out and build an entirely separate architecture for cruise missiles makes no sense to me and it's probably unaffordable. You've got to figure out what the synergies are, take advantage of them, and then move to an area-type construct versus a point-type construct.”