ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- While the Army currently has the ability to destroy targets on land and in the air, future conflicts will also require the Army to defeat targets at sea in support of future joint, multi-domain operations.
"This may sound aspirational," said Adm. Harry Harris, head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, but he believes it is "well within the realm of possible."
To address this challenge, multiple teams worked together to develop an interim solution until a long-term solution is ready to field. The interim solution -- integrating a foreign weapon missile onto an Army platform -- earned Robert "Hunter" Blackwell the 2018 Office of the Under Secretary of Defense-Comparative Technology Office Foreign Comparative Testing Project Manager of the Year award for his work on the project.
The annual award recognizes outstanding FCT project managers who overcome significant obstacles to achieve exemplary cost, schedule and performance targets that lead to successful technology transition.
The effort was led by Blackwell, project lead, Mobile Land-Based Anti-ship Fires, and John Gibbs, deputy project lead. Blackwell and Gibbs worked with their team, Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center, along with the Army's FCT Program Office and the OSD CTO to launch a Norwegian Naval Strike Missile from a modified U.S. Army Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck. The land-to-sea effort was demonstrated at the 2018 Rim of the Pacific exercise.
"This effort provides the Department of Defense with a near term, advanced capability to detect, engage and defeat surface targets in littoral waters at a significantly reduced cost," Blackwell said.
The 2018 RIMPAC-SINKEX exercise was the first time a land-based unit participated in the live-fire event. Units from Japan and the U.S. participated in the sinking exercise, which gave them the opportunity to gain proficiency in tactics, targeting and live firing against a surface target at sea.
Altogether, 25 nations, 46 ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participated in RIMPAC exercise from June 27 to August 2, 2018, in and around Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.
Blackwell began the project in 2017 with the goal to enable Army and Marine Corps forces freedom of movement in cross domain operations, including land to sea maneuvers. He forged numerous partnerships with units that supported the RIMPAC exercise, vendors that provided technical support, and organizations including the Norwegian Ministry of Defense, which provided missiles from the Norwegian Navy Stockpile and the ability to transfer data from the Norwegian vendor, Kongsberg, via government to government Data Exchange Agreement. Blackwell supervised the project from beginning to end, from proposal development to project closeout. He also provided data for future procurements of the Naval Strike Missile.
In a ceremony at the Pentagon on March 28, Director, Prototyping & Concept Experimentation within OUSD (Research and Engineering) Dr. Charles Perkins presented the FCT Project Manager of the Year award to Blackwell and a coin to Gibbs for successfully demonstrating an innovative weapon system that meets the needs of the U.S. military.
"The successful demonstration executed at SINKEX in July 2018 demonstrates the agility of our S&T community to come up with near-term solutions while we project into the future," Perkins said.
The OUSD-CTO FCT program provides an avenue for Army engineers, scientists and program managers to test and evaluate items and technologies from allies' and other friendly nations' industrial base that may fill an Army capability gap. The program is executed for the Army by the Army's FCT program Office, which is part of CCDC's Global Technology Office. The program encourages international cooperation and helps reduce the DOD's overall acquisition costs by providing funds to formally test and evaluate foreign non-developmental items, commercial-off-the-shelf items or technologies that are in the late state of development that may satisfy U.S. military requirements.
The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC), formerly known as the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), has the mission to lead in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our Nation's wars and come home safely. The command collaborates across the Future Force Modernization Enterprise and its own global network of domestic and international partners in academia, industry and other government agencies to accomplish this mission. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.