American weapons systems companies will participate in a missile defense radar “sense-off” to test designs that could be included in the U.S. Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense system under development.
According to reports, the sense-off is expected to take place this spring at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Each vendor with a radar will have roughly two weeks on the range to demonstrate capabilities. A down-select will happen by the end of the year. The Army will then decide on which system to purchase based on the various performances. The winner of the sense-off will be expected to deliver the actual platforms by 2022.
The Raytheon Company —the U.S. firm that has invested most in missile technology research and development over the years— was the most recent company to announce its participation in the coming competition. “We can meet the timeline for both the sense-off and initial operational capability in fiscal year 2022,” said Bob Kelly, Raytheon’s director for integrated air and missile defense.
The Army’s plan to arrange a competition between companies was a brilliant idea to implement what has been called by officials “the reset” on low-tier missile defense. Today, top military brass understands that the aging Patriot batteries, long a staple of missile defense, must be switched out. For months, there have been clear signs of the military (the Army in particular) looking to diversify its missile defense solutions with newer, more capable solutions. Last month, following the publication of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Review, officials announced the purchase of several new systems, including at least two Iran Dome batteries from Israel.