U.S. Army Tests Competing Prototype Systems to Counter Drone and Cruise Missile Threats

The U.S. Army is currently at work on testing two competing systems designed to counter drone and cruise missile threats at White Sands Missile Range. The prototype system solicited is for the Indirect Fires Protection Capability (IFPC), which is part of the air-and-missile defense cross functional team within the service’s Futures Command. This plan was initiated in 2018.

The goal for IFPC is to serve as a mobile solution to protecting critical fixed- or semi-fixed assets. While cruise missiles and unmanned aircraft systems are the first threats to be guarded against, the Army plans to ultimately explore capabilities preventing the problems of rockets, artillery and mortars.

Of the two teams developing potential systems, one is confirmed as an Israel-based Rafael and Raytheon Technologies partnership. Their prototype is said to include aspects of Rafael’s Iron Dome and its Tamir interceptor, known in the U.S. as SkyHunter.

The second team is a Dynetics-Raytheon collaboration utilizing Raytheon’s AIM-9X Sidewinder interceptor. A Multi-Mission Launcher (MML) developed between the Army and Raytheon was used for testing but ultimately abandoned in favor of a new competition.

On 21 May, Program Executive Officer for Missiles and Space Major General Robert Rasch and the Air and Missile Defense Cross-Functional Team Director Brigadier General Brian Gibson stated that testing of the first potential system began in April, with the second occurring in early May. A single vendor will be selected in August.

Fieldable prototypes are planned to enter into testing and support combat by the fourth quarter of FY22, with a complete system delivered by the third quarter of FY23.

 

Source: Defense News and Janes