1+1=3: Making air & missile defence affordable

Show: Defexpo India 2012 - Day 1

The continuing proliferation, sophisticated capabilities and increasing lethality of air and missile defence threats demand a national response that provides better protection of critical assets and a near-leak-proof defence. Resource constraints dictate an approach that integrates weapon system capabilities. An integrated air and missile defence (IAMD) approach is an affordable option that offers the promise of defence of national interests, protection of forces, and freedom of action. The Indian Air Force and Army have embarked upon significant modernisation efforts for their AMD forces-this modernisation should include IAMD as an overarching goal to be implemented from the national command authority down to fire unit level. This article talks about operational, organisational and functional elements to be taken into consideration for creating an effective IAMD structure.

Operationally, IAMD is based on the premise that no individual command, service or system is singularly capable of countering all air, cruise missile and ballistic missile threats, because a modern threat has the capability to defeat single defence solutions. Only a force that can fight as an integrated and interoperable family of systems (FoS), leveraging different service and system capabilities, will be successful.

An IAMD solution must provide: enhanced situational awareness/situational understanding (SA/SU)-ultimately a single integrated air picture (SIAP) at right level for rapid decision-making; easy-to-use “protect” function for friendly and neutral aircraft to eliminate fratricide; optimisation of sensor and weapon resources that leverage capabilities and increase efficiencies; expanded battlespace and operational flexibility for early engagement and best weapon/system usage; missiles to match the threat, to avoid overkill and missile wastage; open architecture that allows for integration of sensors and weapon systems at an affordable cost without constraining performance.

An IAMD solution must not waste valuable resources on duplication of existing capabilities or require discarding stovepipe solutions to implement an IAMD solution; reduce or constrain current performance or lethality; and isolate joint and multinational partners.

A FoS concept envisions an interdependent, interoperable, and integrated joint force employing layered capabilities, woven together by an effective command and control structure focusing on three basic tenets: prevent attacks, defeat adversary platforms, and minimise effects from an attack. These three tenets relate to the actions taken to detect, identify, engage, and negate, or minimise the threat as early and as completely as possible. For theatre level operations, effective integration of offensive counter air (OCA) and defensive counter air (DCA) is paramount. OCA attack operations are the preferred method for countering an enemy’s air and missile threats by attacking enemy platforms in the air and assets on the ground prior to launch. DCA operations provide terminal defence against penetrating threat platforms through the application of engagement zones within a layered defence, offering the highest probability of negating adversary air and missile attacks. The theatre defensive engagement zone construct attempts to integrate sensors, weapons, shooters and operations to provide successful, efficient, dynamic, and integrated engagements of hostile targets out to the longest possible ranges.

Organisationally, to optimise IAMD operations, a coordinating authority is needed above IAMD level that facilitates collaborative, adaptive planning processes. The coordinating authority focuses across national agencies, multinational partners, multiple services, and coordinates OCA and DCA operations. The coordinating authority can require consultation between affected agencies, but does not have the authority to compel. The coordinating authority develops inputs, recommendations, and assessments for senior leaders, enhancing the ability to employ forces and capabilities within the theatre in support of the mission.

Functionally, IAMD will have the highest payoff from investments in netcentric capabilities that can support critical battlefield capabilities: intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR); identification and classification; planning; operations; and battle management of participating components and systems for countering air and missile threats.

Effective Command and Control (C2): The increasing complexity of the adversary’s attack options requires that information presented to the warfighter be timely, accurate and relevant. Any IAMD solution must provide a SIAP and sufficient SA/SU of events occurring in the three dimensional, dynamic battlespace in order to ensure proper classification, identification, engagement decision and weapon assignment to hostile threats while maximising the protection of friendly and neutral aircraft. The C2 node must have the ability to seamlessly integrate with AMD sensors and weapon systems while simultaneously performing integrated engagement operations (EO) and force operations (FO).

Engagement Operations: Engagement operations are actions required to negate the full spectrum of air and missile threats. Those threats include rockets, artillery and mortars (RAM), theatre ballistic missiles, rotary and fixed-wing targets, unmanned aerial vehicles, anti-radiation missiles, and cruise missiles. Functions required for engagement operations include: detecting, tracking, classifying, and identifying aerial platforms; performing friendly protection; performing threat assessment; directing engagements of hostile targets in accordance with established rules of engagement (ROE) and assessing engagement results.

Force Operations: Force operations are those functions required to plan, coordinate, sustain, and synchronise the battlespace. Planners must have the ability to conduct parallel and collaborative planning to take full advantage of the additional capability provided by fully integrated joint and multinational sensors and weapon systems.

Integrated Communications Network: Integration of AMD assets requires an open-architecture communications network that enables C2 platforms, sensors and weapons systems to integrate at the component and/or weapon system level at an affordable cost without constraining sensor or weapon system capabilities. Current communications and hardware should be leveraged and enhanced in order to integrate with legacy and multinational AMD assets and achieve a true SIAP. A networked force can increase combat power, achieving greater speed of command decisions with a better SIAP; while increasing the lethality by selecting the best weapon for engagement; and improving survivability with better SA/SU, quicker engagement decisions, better weapon selection and earlier engagements. Finally, central to successful establishment of an IAMD are several important characteristics. Not all are necessarily mandatory for accomplishing each mission, but the presence of these characteristics provides confidence for successful mission accomplishment. Specifically, IAMD demands a layered defence, both in range and altitude. Further, common command and control, an integration level that works across weapon systems and resides above specific weapon capabilities, adds efficiency and effectiveness to the defence by selection and allocation of the best resources. Given the reality that many nations face weapons of mass destruction (WMD) - chemical, biological, nuclear - the need for hit-to-kill technology to defeat these weapons is paramount. And of last but not the least, IAMD’s success is largely dependent on integrated logistics to ensure the family of systems remains operational throughout the campaign.

The high cost of procurement of air and missile defence platforms demands full optimisation of each precious resource. No single service or weapon system can respond efficiently to all threats, driving the demand that individual capabilities be brought into an increasingly capable and effective integrated structure for sensor and weapon optimisation. IAMD offers that promise, ensuring mission success for the defence of the nation and its critical assets.