US ARMY APPROVES
PLAN FOR AIR-DEFENCE MODERNISATION
Senior US Army
leaders have approved a plan to modernise the service's air-defence
forces and may pursue a joint programme to develop a new ground
based missile system with the US Marine Corps.
Maj Gen Dennis Cavin, Commanding General of the Air Defense Artillery
Center and School at Ft Bliss, Texas, the HUMRAAM medium-range self-propelled
missile system "is one of the enablers that will allow the
transformation" to a new air and missile defence concept.
the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) on
a High-Mobility Multipurpose, Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV).
Gen Cavin said
the army is looking to transform its air and missile defence capabilities
to increase the operational battlespace they can support in line
with the overall army transformation strategy for the Interim Brigade
Combat Teams (IBCTs) and objective force.
The army would
move a limited number of Boeing Avenger self-propelled short-range
air-defence systems to the Army National Guard (ARNG) as part of
that transformation and the ARNG would also get some HUMRAAMS. Although
tentative, the army is looking to acquire 444 HUMRAAMs that will
replace 98 Avengers, 48 M6 Bradley Linebacker Short-Range Air-Defence
systems, and 56 Bradley Stinger Fighting Vehicle MANPADS Under Armour,
army officials said.
is "very similar in concept and mission" to the US Marine
Corps' Complementary Low-Altitude Weapon System (CLAWS), making
it "intuitive to join together into a joint programme",
said Gen Cavin (Jane's Defence Weekly 12 April). He noted that although
the two programmes' requirements are not identical, "they can
be harmonised to allow us to buy more systems and keep the cost
of the new system, he said, is its increased capability to engage
targets at greater distances. For example, the Raytheon Systems
Company Sensors and Electronic Systems' Sentinel AN/MPQ-64 radar
can see over 40km and the TRW Forward Area Air Defence Command,
Control and Intelligence (FAADC2I) system can handle targets at
that range, but "we are limited by the range of the Stinger
missile ... HUMRAAM allows me to go to that maximum range".
prototype launches an AMRAAM during testing. The service plans
to acquire 444 HUMRAAM in what could be a joint programme with
the US Marine Corps. © USMC
would not replace the shorter-range Stinger missile systems, Gen
Cavin said, but would provide complementary capability. Because
the Stinger is guided by an infrared seeker and AMRAAM uses radar
guidance, "defeating them both [with countermeasures] would
be very difficult".
looking at a concept that says a ground-launched AMRAAM could be
a complement to MEADS [Medium Extended Air-Defense System],"
Cavin said. The AMRAAMs would be used as a low-cost killer of air
breathing threats such as unmanned air vehicles, cruise missiles
and stand-off helicopters, while more expensive Patriot Advanced
Capability-3 (PAC-3) type missiles would be used to engage theatre
ballistic missile threats.
The army is
looking at a system that could fire PAC-3 missiles or AMRAAM from
either the same launcher or same battery. "As the system evolves,
we will take a look at other missions," Gen Cavin added.
While the army's
programme is still in the formation stages of developing an Operational
Requirements Document, the USMC is expected to release a Request
for Proposals (RFP) for CLAWS shortly.
That RfP will
be for a joint programme definition and risk reduction, and engineering
and manufacturing development phase that will lead to a first unit
equipped in late Fiscal Year 2005 (FY05).
The USMC has
$39.4 million to spend on the development effort through to FY05,
while army fielding is still unresolved. However, Gen Cavin said:
"At this stage we have the capability to fund HUMRAAM with
our existing budget." Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Boeing
said they will lead industry teams bidding on the CLAWS programme.
The USA announced
last month that it would sell a ground-launched version of the AMRAAM
to Egypt under the Foreign Military Sales programme (JDW 12 April).
Although the DoD said that details on the Egyptian sale had not
been worked out, industry officials claim Cairo is interested in
a hybrid system that could fire either AMRAAMs or HAWK surface-to-air
missiles. Norway already uses the AIM-120 in the ground-launched
role for its Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System.