HUNTSVILLE, Ala. –The Army on Wednesday released a new framework for its future approach to air and missile defense with the goal of synchronizing modernization efforts and providing maneuver forces with multi-mission capabilities to better prepare for emerging threats.

Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, head of Army Space and Missile Defense Command, told reporters at the AUSA Global Force Symposium here the new document will ensure development of modernized capabilities follows integration of the Army’s new Multi-Domain Operations concept to ensure forces can defend ground maneuver forces from threats such as hypersonic missiles and drones.

Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, commander of Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command. Photo: U.S. Army.

“We see ourselves in a much more complex environment with the threats that we face today. That’s whether you’re looking at the UAS threats that we counter today or the sophistication of ballistic missiles, and the emergence of potential hypersonics that are looming with some of our near-peer adversaries,” Dickinson said.  “This gives us a clear path forward. It charters our ability to provide flexible, agile and integrated air and missile defense capability in the multi-domain operations.”

Dickinson said a significant focus of the new framework, the Army’s first air and missile defense pathway update since 2015, is about ensuring missile defense formations have multi-mission capabilities to be more adaptive to changing threats.

“We’re going to have formations of air and missile defense battalions that have a mix of capabilities. They’ll be employed in tailored force packages, composite battalions, platoons and batteries,” Dickinson said. “We may see formations that have a Patriot THAAD. We may see a formation that has Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC) and Patriot mixed.”

The framework also commits to the Army’s future range of missile defense capabilities to include the IBCS command systems being developed by Northrop Grumman [NOC], the Maneuver-SHORAD, IFPC and the Lower Tier Air Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS) set to replace the Patriot’s current radar.

Bringing along those capabilities will focus on building up a network-centric approach to future air and missile defense, according to Dickinson.

“We’ll eventually get away from the unit we would recognize today in terms of having the launcher, the sensor, the command and control, into one that you have the command and control element that’s reliant on a netted architecture,” Dickinson said.

Dickinson said the framework is meant to push the Army toward addressing threats through all phases of flight from boost and launch through mid-course and terminal, which he called a requirement as adversaries develop increasingly sophisticated ballistic missile threats.

“Just the sheer number of interceptors that our adversaries have, that becomes a very challenging problem,” Dickinson said. “It’s the ability to employ all three–passive defense, active defense and attack operations–to mitigate and make that calculus a little more winnable from the defense perspective.”