War in Ukraine underscores need for missile defense upgrade

COLORADO SPRINGS – The struggle in Ukraine is demonstrating the speedy tempo of change in trendy warfare and underscoring the necessity for enhanced missile protection capabilities, Derek Tournear, director of the Pentagon’s House Improvement Company, mentioned April 6 on the House Symposium right here.

“We’ve seen some hypersonics deployed over Ukraine,” Tournear mentioned. As soon as it’s in place, SDA’s missile Monitoring Layer “would help you detect them and observe them,” he mentioned.

As well as, SDA’s communications or Transport Layer “may have connectivity on to the warfighter in order that not solely can we warn folks about the place that missile goes, however we are able to truly ship these knowledge down on to an interceptor in order that we are able to interact and take away the menace,” Tournear mentioned.

Present Protection Division missile protection satellites in geostationary and extremely elliptical orbits are designed to identify ballistic missiles. As soon as sensors observe the trail of ballistic missiles, they’ll decide their affect level based mostly on the ballistic trajectory.

“That labored nice for a lot of many years,” Tournear mentioned. “Effectively, now we’re in a unique realm.”

The problem at present is detecting missiles after the booster rocket fires as a result of “these methods truly maneuver, that means that they’ll change their affect level dramatically,” Tournear mentioned. “And so that’s requiring us to take a complete totally different strategy to having the ability to detect and observe these methods.”

One other problem for missile protection is communications.

“Proper now, we now have tactical knowledge hyperlinks that sometimes work over a 300 nautical mile space,” Tournear mentioned. “What drove this structure was protection towards the Soviet Union coming throughout the Fulda Hole in Europe.”

As a substitute, SDA is growing a community that may move knowledge on hypersonic glide automobiles or every other sort of concentrating on knowledge around the globe.

“We might allow these knowledge to go over our Transport Layer after which be despatched down instantly by way of the present tactical knowledge hyperlinks which are already in place,” Tournear mentioned. As a substitute of regional communications, the community will supply world, low-latency connectivity, he added.

SDA’s Tranche 0 constellation of 20 communications and eight missile-tracking satellites is scheduled to launch subsequent 12 months, Tournear mentioned.

Congress, recognizing the superior missile menace, added $550 million to SDA’s 2022 finances “to get that monitoring for the missile detection layer up as quickly as potential,” Tournear mentioned. “Due to that funding, we can launch that Tranche One Monitoring Layer beginning in Could of 2025.”

SDA is concentrated on a spiral growth technique. Each two years, the company plans to improve its expertise.

To enhance the accuracy of missile monitoring, SDA is intently following a Missile Protection Company expertise demonstration scheduled for March 2023.

If the demonstration is profitable, SDA would fold the expertise into its Monitoring Layer.

“Possibly we’ll fly one other couple in our Tranche One to indicate the way it matches in with the general structure, however definitely in Tranche Two,” Tournear mentioned. “We might wish to have a combination of what we name our broad area of view that does the missile warning, missile monitoring after which medium area of view based mostly on these MDA designs.”

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