Space and Missile Defense Challenges: Army Theater Missile Defense—Challenges for 2010 and Beyond

November 6, 2000

Nearly a decade ago, Army Patriot interceptors fought the world’s first active defense battles against ballistic missiles. Since the Gulf War, the Army and the other services have steadily progressed toward the goal of fully integrated joint theater missile defense (TMD). The Army established the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC), commanded by a general officer, to perform theater-level air and missile defense planning, integration, coordination and execution functions for the Army Forces/Joint Force Land Component Commander. The Army, with Navy participation, has forwarddeployed Joint Tactical Ground Stations (JTAGS) in Europe and Korea, providing regional commanders in chief a limited in-theater capability to receive, process and disseminate space-based infrared sensor information on tactical ballistic missile launches. The range of the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) is being extended, forcing our adversaries to pull their missile launchers and associated command and control systems further back from our forces, reducing their lethal battlespace. The Army is demonstrating the warfighting value-added of an elevated sensor, the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS), to detect and track low-flying cruise missiles and to support the development of the Single Integrated Air Picture (SIAP). Today, continental United States (CONUS)-based computer models and simulations virtually train TMD forces deployed overseas.

Since Desert Storm, the Army has fielded three incremental upgrades to Patriot. These upgrades collectively provide Patriot with a lethal capability to defend nearly twice the battlespace as compared to the system fought in Desert Storm. These upgrades also significantly improve Patriot’s capability to integrate with joint air and missile defense systems. One more major upgrade is planned for Patriot, to include a new hit-to-kill missile (Patriot Advanced Capability 3, or PAC-3), that will provide a sevenfold increase in lethal battlespace as compared to what could be defended during Desert Storm. The upgrade will assure destruction of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) at ranges and altitudes that protect our forces from lethal agents. PAC-3 is in Low Rate Initial Production with a First Unit Equipped (FUE) of Fiscal Year 2001 (FY01).

The Army is also looking ahead to longer-term joint and combined TMD needs. These needs stem from a threat which has evolved to a family of increasingly capable theater ballistic missiles, land attack cruise missiles, large-caliber rockets, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Adding to this is the ability of many of these systems to deliver weapons of mass destruction. It is this varied threat set that is driving the evolution of joint and Army TMD in the following areas.