The Defense Department’s Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) expects to start transitioning the hypervelocity gun weapon system (HGWS) to the services over the next year, an official said last Thursday.
Vincent Sabio, program manager for the HGWS program at SCO, said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) event that the office is aiming to provide the Army and Navy with the pieces needed to transition the weapon. Although he was unwilling to detail how much time was between final demonstrations and the start of transitioning, he said “let me answer that in a roundabout sense, my program ends less than a year from now.”
The CSIS event discussed new concepts for integrated air and missile defense (IAMD), and Sabio said the HGWS is being designed to engage in multiple threats.
He noted in an IAMD role, the HGWS may have different modes to operate in and it could be programmed before or after exiting a gun on what type of threat it is going after and how it is configured to defeat that threat. This includes dynamics, how to maneuver, how close to get to a threat target, and whether it engages with a warhead of hit-to-kill mode.
The projectiles in the HGWS are being designed to be shot out of Army 155 howitzers and Navy 5-inch deck guns. The howitzers can shoot the projectile with some modifications. Sabio said this translates into great portability for missile defenses.
“Any place that you can take a 155, any place that you can take your Navy DDG, you have got an inexpensive, flexible, air and missile defense capability,” he said.
Sabio emphasized the Navy Program Executive Office (PEO) Integrated Warfare Systems (IWS) independently cost the hypervelocity gun’s projectile at about $85,000 per round.
“That is way, way, way cheaper than anything that is currently in U.S. missile defense architecture. You can shoot a lot of those things and not feel bad about it at the end of the day.”
He said SCO is also building an interferometer to provide them with nearly 90-degree coverage at the cost of over $23 million for the first article. “Now you can take four these, you’ve got a reasonable cost-effective full hemispherical coverage for fire control. That’s a fire control quality radar.”
The office is also pairing the demonstration verison of the HGWS with a Northrop Grumman [NOC] AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR). He said this rotating system radar can reach out farther than the fire control radar and place a threat into its “basket” and hand the threat off to the shorter-range fire control radar.
That kind of capability would mean “now you have complete hemispherical coverage to support that IAMD architecture.”
Sabio said SCO is building out of the associated systems to make the HGWS work, including full fire control loops with sensors, communications links, the projectile, the launchers, and gun modifications. However, command and control integration decisions will be made by the Army and Navy independent transition partners.
The office is trying to set up the services with a “funda
mentally new capability” and provide them with all the pieces to transition the weapon system into engineering and manufacturing development phase.
Separately, the commander of Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, said a new Army Air and Missile Defense strategy will be completed by this next summer.
The Army AMD enterprise began to develop the new strategy in March 2017 based on the recent national defense strategy, the army operating concept, changing operational environment, the evolving threat, and emerging technologies
Dickinson said it will focus on the 2018 to 2028 timeframe and nest with the national defense strategies, the Army operating concepts, multi-domain battle, and other current doctrine.
It will include a “holistic DOTMLPF review and address all domains from mud to space.”