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This Week on MIDRATS: “Let’s Talk Missiles” – UPDATED

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Join us for Midrats this Sunday, 22 July 2012 on blogtalk radio, where the topic is missiles – ballistic and cruise; and your humble scribe is the guest.  Seven months into this year and we have seen much on this front.  Pick a theater and you will find ballistic and cruise missiles are at or near the top of the various COCOM’s top 5 concerns.  A report released by DoD a few weeks back states in part:

Iran continues to develop ballistic missiles that can range regional adversaries, Israel, and Eastern Europe, including an extended-range variant of the Shahab-3 and a 2,000-krn medium-range ballistic missile, the Ashura. Beyond steady growth in its missile and rocket inventories, Iran has boosted the lethality and effectiveness of existing systems by improving accuracy and developing new sub-munition payloads. – Annual Report on the Military Strength of Iran

At the same time, Iran has also been working at developing forces and tactics that will be used in an anti-access campaign to close the Strait of Hormuz and threaten regional naval and land forces should it decide to retaliate against growing sanctions over its nuclear program.

In the Pacific, besides the world’s largest and most robust program in developing and deploying a range of ballistic missiles from short- to inter-continental, they are likewise building a range of cruise missiles for land-attack and anti-ship that are both formidable in number and capability:

The PLA is acquiring large numbers of highly accurate, domestically built cruise missiles, and has previously acquired large numbers of Russian ones. These include the domestically produced, ground- launched CJ-10 land-attack cruise missile (LACM); the domestically produced ground- and ship-launched YJ-62 anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM); the Russian SS-N-22/SUNBURN supersonic ASCM, which is fitted on China’s SOVREMENNY-class guided missile destroyers; and the Russian SS-N-27B/SIZZLER supersonic ASCM on China’s Russian-built KILO-class diesel-powered attack submarines. - Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, May 2012

If past practice is prologue, we can expect to see domestic variants of the Russian-sourced cruise missiles in the near future (witness the SU-27 v. J-11).  Again, all part of a larger Advanced-A2/AD strategy being put into play as we in turn conduct the “Pacific pivot”.  And need we mention Syria, with its inventory of missiles and extensive chemical weapons arsenal, teetering on the brink of chaos and their  practice of passing missiles to Hezbollah?

Joint ventures of the sort between Russia and India that yielded the BrahMOS ASCM/LACM will increasingly become more common.  And with a world increasingly awash in growing numbers of ballistic and cruise missiles, how long before a non-state actor obtains, and uses, these sophisticated, technical weapons systems?  Oh wait – that’s already happened.  Just ask the Israeli navy

Oh, and did I mention hypersonics too?

Today’s warfighters find themselves in a complex, multi-layered and highly nuanced threat environment – one that parallels the multi-polar world that has emerged in the past two decades.  Successfully operating in this environment will require that we open the aperture on kinetic and non-kinetic solutions and take an integrated approach to air and missile defense.

Just some of the things we’ll be talking about Sunday afternoon.  Why don’t you join us?


UPDATE:
Here’s today’s transcript:

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

 

P.S.  A little read-ahead if you’d like for background:

IAMD Acquisition Updates: E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and SM-3 Blk IIB

Couple of developments in the last week with regards to major systems in our Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) plans for the coming decades:

Item: The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has awarded concept definition contracts to three teams competing for the SM-3 Block IIB advanced interceptor (aka: Next Generation Aegis Missile (NGAM)). Designed to intercept longer range IR and ICBMs, the SM-3 Blk IIB will be deployed from Aegis Ashore sites, first as part of the European Phase Adaptive Approach (EPAA), Phase IV and eventually from Aegis BMD configured CGs and DDGs. Boeing, Lockheed and Raytheon were the awardees for this phase which will define and assess viable and affordable missile configurations, conduct trade studies, and define an executable development plan for the new missile. Work will be performed through Dec 2013 with deployment at decade’s end.

The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 (VX-20) catches the arresting wire aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) during carrier qualifications testing.    (Photo via Northrop Grumman)

Item: Funding approved for an additional 10 E-2D aircraft:

BETHPAGE, N.Y., April 14, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Following a successful Defense Acquisition Board review, funding for an additional 10 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft has been authorized. The authorization comes just a short time after the Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC)-built E-2D made its first carrier landing, aboard the USS Harry S. Truman. An Acquisition Decision Memorandum, signed by Dr. Ashton Carter, undersecretary of defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, validates that the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye program is continuing to successfully execute all cost and schedule requirements and is on track to enter Initial Operational Test and Evaluation later this year.

“This is a significant milestone for the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye program,” said Jim Culmo, vice president, airborne early warning and battle management command and control programs, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector. “The entire Advanced Hawkeye team continues to work tirelessly to meet the commitments we’ve made to our U.S. Navy customer. Delivering this advanced capability, on time and on cost, continues a legacy that began more than 50 years ago and ushers in a new era in airborne early warning and battle management command and control.”

“The E-2D continues the Navy’s integrated warfighting legacy by providing broad area coverage resulting in increased range capabilities,” said Capt. Shane Gahagan, Hawkeye-Greyhound program manager, U.S. Navy. “With the E-2D’s enhanced ability to work in the littoral areas and over land, the platform provides a critical capability to protect our nation’s interests.”

The Navy’s program of record is for a total of 75 aircraft, with deliveries through 2021.

“As the Navy celebrates its Centennial of Navy Aviation, Northrop Grumman continues to be committed to providing this critical first line of defense well into the 21st century,” said Culmo.

To date, Northrop Grumman has delivered five E-2D aircraft to the Navy and production on the 10th aircraft recently began at Northrop Grumman’s East Coast Manufacturing and Flight Test Center in St. Augustine, Fla.

E-2D Advanced Hawkeye – Death By A Thousand Cuts?

Disclaimer: I am not nor have I ever been an employee of N-G.  Yes, I have over 3,000 hours in their E-2C and it is with that time, and the experiences it has brought across a wide playing field that the following is submitted. – SJS

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The final deliveries of supplies and materials for the venerable E-2C Hawkeye will take place this year,  thirty-six years after the baseline model reached IOC and seventeen years after the Group II’s IOC.  The replacement, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is a major advance in capabilities available to maritime forces that is unmatched anywhere by any other platform.  But it’s rationale isn’t found in posting bragging rights – there is a real and growing threat to maritime forces whether the water is blue, green or brown:

“Advanced cruise missiles don’t get much press today. They should, because several very capable types have been around quite a while. Land-attack cruise missiles like a French-built missile called the Scalp have been sold in Europe and the Persian Gulf under the name Black Shaheen. It’s big, stealthy, and flies about 500 mph. Then there
are the anti-ship cruise missiles. Just about every nation with a coastline has them. It takes constant vigilance with a big and high-powered radar search volume to pick out cruise missiles flying over land or water.”

(ed. …and don’t think the Russians have entered into a joint partnership with the Indians on development of the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile out of any altruistic leanings either – SJS)
“The US Navy has prepared to meet the threat with a little-known program with the far too bland name of Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air (NIFC-CA). What that means is the Navy is pushing the technology to link fire control for the missiles mil_cec_concept_lgcarried by its ships and airplanes into a network that can pick out and shoot enemy cruise missiles when they are farther away. Cooperative engagement capability is part of the NIFC-CA, and that’s where E-2D comes in.

What the Navy says publicly is that the E-2D crew can keep track of many more targets at once in an area 300% greater than the older plane. Work stations inside have all the links needed to make NIFC-CA effective in its expanded mission: flat-screen glass displays, satellite communications and the latest secure networking.

Although the whole NIFC-CA piece is still maturing, the anti-cruise missile capabilities in E-2D work with systems ready today. None question the Navy’s need for E-2D – the threat is too compelling. Links to the Army’s ground-based Patriot air and missile defense batteries are designed in…More links to surface ships come later.”

The E-2D was approved for LRIP of 3/yr in 2008 and 2009, completed its 125th flight milestone this last July and is on track for Milestone C this spring.  Compared with the original E-2A and the E-2C developments, both of which encountered major developmental problems and ultimately failed their OPEVALS, the E-2D has successfully completed its Operational Assessment with over half the flight time involved with radar operations – and it was successfully tracking towards an IOC of 2011.  So what’s the problem?

‘$200m+ Congressional Cut to E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Puts 350 U.S. Jobs At Risk’

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., Feb. 6, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Calling a $200-plus million cut to production procurement for the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye a “high risk” move that will put U.S. jobs and global security at risk, Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and its 280-member supplier team is calling on Congressional leaders to restore the funding. The reduction in funding jeopardizes the building of production aircraft initially planned in fiscal years 2009 and 2010.

“We’ve just completed a very successful Operational Assessment with our two E-2D Advanced Hawkeye System Development & Demonstration (SD&D) aircraft and we are on schedule with our three pilot production aircraft. There is a great sense of urgency today to restore production procurement dollars into the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye budget-otherwise hundreds of U.S. jobs will be lost and taxpayers will not derive the benefit of economies of scale,” said Tom Vice, sector vice president for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector. “We have the manufacturing capacity now to accommodate up to ten E-2D’s a year, which certainly supports the Navy’s plan to contract for 70 more aircraft. More importantly, these budget cuts may delay Initial Operating Capability beyond the Navy’s current program of record.”

This is how it starts – the death by a thousand cuts.  The ‘it’s only one airplane a year for two years’ mentality will only increase overall costs, delay IOC and virtually guarantee a period of spares shortages and cannibalization early in the aircraft’s life – just like it did with the E-2C in the late 70’s and early 90’s.  As a good friend and fellow VAW CO wrote me earlier today:

“Sigh, this is very similar to what happened when Group II’s first got fielded. We did not buy enough aircraft up front, and as an extra added bonus it meant the Navy did not have a lot of spares. The result was the Group II squadrons gave up engines and other things and sat with hulk when they got home-so the other squadron could make enough aircraft to go on cruise.
Of course in those days the buy was six per year.”

I remember those days.  I remember coming back from 7-9 month deployments and spending the post-cruise period frantically stripping boxes, engines, even outer wing panels to help a sister squadron get ready for deployment.  I remember going through workups with critical pieces of equipment tagged out because their replacements were unavailable.  When you finally got the replacements – a week before deployment if you were lucky, you just practiced as best you could on the trans-Lant and hoped to be ready when on the line in the Med or IO.

As we see billions thrown at saving banks from their own egregious behavior, as we throw millions down ratholes labeled for honey bee factories, parking garages in Utah, and “pig odor research” we see DoD hit with budget cuts across the board, for forces that require re-equipping and rearmament to face a growing multitude of threats on a variety of fronts.

Integrated air and missile defense is a must for operations in the littorals, especially for assets with limited self defense capabilities and which depend on an extended umbrella from surface- and air-assets operating in associated or direct support.  In a future marked by proliferation of cruise missiles of all sorts – land-attack, anti-ship, supersonic, stealth, sea-skimming and high-diving, the requirement for a platform that is able to pick these difficult targets out of the clutter presented by the land-sea interface and overland environments is a firm “must-have.”  Yet it is not enough to just pick the targets out of the clutter – a system for the future must be able to transmit fire-control quality data over secure networks and ensure that everyone – sensor, shooter, evaluator is working from a common picture.

The E-2D not only matches up well in that arena, it is a pre-requisite if we expect to successfully execute the maritime strategy.

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