By Jason B. Cutshaw, USASMDC/ARSTRAT Public AffairsApril 11, 2017
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Speaking to the local missile defense community, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command's leader talked about how the Army is looking to identify the next leap ahead, game changing technology and concept to provide dominant space and missile defense capabilities.
Lt. Gen. James H. Dickinson, commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, addressed the 18th Association of the U.S. Army Missile Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama, April 11.
Panels at the symposium focused on the topics of innovation, capability development, rapid transfer, key technology, and prioritization, as well as current capability gaps.
"There is an old and familiar saying that the adversary always has a vote," Dickinson said. "From a missile defense perspective, the threats posed by our adversaries are growing increasingly more complex, unpredictable, mobile and survivable."
Dickinson said that nearly 30 countries have ballistic missile capability and numerous countries are also developing ground, sea and air-launched land-attack cruise missiles utilizing an assortment of unconventional and inexpensive launch platforms.
He added that hypersonic boost glide capabilities are emerging and the nation must continue to leverage technology to stay ahead of this emerging threat, as well as unmanned aerial systems, or UAS, threats continue to increase in sophistication and numbers.
"These emerging threats highlight the need for operational and tactical commanders to have situational awareness of strategic space operations, but also the ability to employ lower level space capabilities to mitigate a degraded, denied and disrupted space environment and facilitate opening windows of opportunity to create multiple dilemmas for the enemy," Dickinson said. "Our adversaries' ability to create an anti-access and area-denial environment makes today's operating environment among the most challenging we have faced since the Cold War.
"Today's operational environment includes changes in the character of war highlighted by increased lethality and potential overmatch, and friendly forces being contested in all domains including space and missile defense," he added.
Dickinson then talked about the objective of the Army's high energy laser science and technology efforts to develop ruggedized laser system components and integrate them onto an Army vehicle. He added that a solid-state laser weapon system has the potential to be a low-cost and effective complement to kinetic energy capabilities in countering rockets, artillery and mortars, UASs and other threats.
Another effort, in terms of providing innovative and cost-effective solutions, is the command's low-cost target development.
"Over the past year, we completed detailed designs for three new short range ballistic missile targets leveraging existing excess solid rocket motors," Dickinson said. "This effort could possibly save millions of dollars for missile defense testing by providing targets at low cost."
Dickinson said that in 2014, the Army chief of staff designated SMDC as the Army air and missile defense, or AMD, enterprise integrator to integrate and synchronize efforts. He went into detail on how satellite communications is not only a key enabler for missile defense, but of most Army operations.
Dickinson explained how the command currently operates five Wideband Satellite Communication, or SATCOM, Operations Centers around the globe providing payload control and network control for Department of Defense communications satellites.
"These communication links are a vital part of missile warning and missile defense," Dickinson said. "They also play a role by providing communications for situational awareness for Warfighters in theater."
He also mentioned how SMDC's four Regional SATCOM Support Centers assist in the planning of the communications links for possible missile warning data that is transmitted over ultra-high frequency and super high frequency SATCOM.
"It is incumbent upon all of us to examine ways to counter the ever growing space and missile threat and the dynamics of the operational environment," Dickinson said. "I can't emphasize enough about the importance of our continued collaboration and our partnerships."