WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. — Thirty Soldiers and 85 government civilians and contractors began a three-week test of an updated air and missile defense sensor at the White Sands Missile Range.
The limited user test of the Sentinel A4 AN/MPQ-64A4, or Sentinel A4, will inform the decision to replace the Sentinel A3 AN/MPQ-64A3 as the Army’s primary intermediate air and missile defense sensor.
“Sentinel A4 is the first modernized sensor effort that we will test this year that integrates into the Army’s top priority Integrated Air and Missile Defense via the Integrated Battle Command System,” said Col. Josh Moon, director of the U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s Air and Missile Defense Test Directorate, or AMDTD, out of Fort Bliss, Texas.
AMDTD testers teamed with Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command; Battery D, 6th Battalion, 56th Air Defense Artillery Regiment; Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 75th Field Artillery Brigade; 3rd Battalion, 6th Air Defense Artillery Test Detachment; and civilians from multiple government agencies assembled to test the Sentinel A4 to make sure it is ready to be fielded to Soldiers.
The limited user test tactical configuration consists of a section-sized Sentinel A4 element operating 2 Sentinels for multiple 72-hour mission pulses under day and night conditions.
During the limited user test, Soldiers will operate Sentinel A4 in a suite of operationally realistic missions that include integrated fire protection capability, short range air defense and counter rocket artillery mortar, according to Capt. Matthew Altenberg, AMDTD test officer.
“AMDTD will collect performance data to support sensor effectiveness evaluation and human system integration data for supportability and suitability evaluations,” said Altenberg.
The data will consist of on-site observations, interviews and focus groups of participating Soldiers employing and operating the system, he added.
Cpl. Jordan A. Wierzbicki, an Army air defense battle management system operator with the 56th Air Defense Artillery Regiment is enthusiastic about the A4 improvements.
“The difference between the Sentinel A3 and A4 is like night and day,” he said. “The A4’s enhanced capabilities will greatly benefit all [short range air defense artillery] units in the Army.”
Spec. Daemon K. Vann, another Army air defense battle management system operator with the 56th Air Defense Artillery Regiment appreciates the ease of set-up and movement of the A4.
“A major advantage of the Sentinel A4 is the streamlined set up that allows ease of emplacement and march order,” he said. “When in a combat environment, the ability to quickly emplace or march order can save lives.”
Spc. Zachary D. Ott, an Army air defense battle management system operator with the 56th understands the technological advantages of the A4.
“Bigger, better, and newer,” he said. “The A4’s capabilities are a big step up compared to the A3’s capability.”
The Sentinel A4 is expected to meet the operational requirements and address Sentinel A3 obsolescence issues to enhance future growth potential while improving existing Sentinel capability against cruise missiles, unmanned aerial systems, rotary wing, and fixed wing threats.
About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command:
As the Army’s only independent operational tester, USAOTC tests Army, joint, and multi-service warfighting systems in realistic operational environments, using typical users to provide data on whether the systems are effective, suitable, and survivable. USAOTC is required by public law to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer — the American Soldier.
USAOTC Air and Missile Defense Test Directorate conducts realistic operational testing of Army high priority air and missile defense systems to provide Army senior leaders with critical information necessary to field high quality capabilities to AMD warfighters protecting US interest around the world.