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Base operations


A US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense interceptor missile launches during a flight test in the Marshall Islands.


right up the tailpipe and basically take out an aircraft that’s parked on a ramp. We’ve not made really good progress in this area.”


Systems of the future


Drones and other new technologies not only offer new challenges, but also opportunities for innovative protection. Developing robust, economically viable defences of the future will require a layered approach and a mixture of kinetic and non-kinetic solutions. “This is where directed energy and magnetic spectrum-type capabilities really help in what we call the salvo competition,” says Rehberg. High-energy lasers can be used to undermine approaching munitions by focusing beams on small areas – causing damage to electronics and casings – while high-powered microwave weapons can disrupt an incoming weapon’s sensors and steering with energetic pulses. Mounting such weapons on UAVs, for example, could make a valuable contribution to future base defence, and is something the US is actively working on.


Rehberg also sees artificial intelligence as playing a key role in the IAMD arena by ensuring that the most appropriate system is used against each threat. “We basically do a match,” he says. “If I’m red going against blue, if I can have blue fire their best interceptors at bogus threats, I have basically won the competition.” The US Navy’s naval integrated fire control-counter air (NIFC-CA) system is being considered as a potential solution in this battle management, command and control space.


Rehberg suggests that the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) may need a slightly different focus moving forward, too. “The MDA has a $10–12bn


Defence & Security Systems International / www.defence-and-security.com 23


budget, but basically its focus has been on the ground- based interceptor against the North Korean threat, and obviously preparing for the Iranian threat. That’s where most of the money is going,” he says. “We’ve had some really great investments with Iron Dome and David’s Sling, obviously they helped develop that. We’re doing ballistic missiles, but then, what about all these other threats?”


Rehberg is in little doubt that lessons can be learned from Afghanistan, but whether those lessons translate into significant changes or improvements is a different matter. “We’ve done a lot of studies, but we haven’t done a lot with them. Almost all the other periods where the threat was emerging, we actually did something – we responded. We have not responded well on this one. We’re still stuck in late Cold War, in [the] early ’90s, where bases were sanctuaries,” he says. “The army needs to do a lot more, and the air force needs to step in and do things that the army can’t do or won’t do.” ●


The US is investigating the potential of mounting lasers and microwave weapons on unmanned aerial vehicles.


EvaL Miko/Shutterstock.com; US Department of Defense


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