From Needing a Truck to Just the Trunk
For decades, Army battalions could set up their Patriot batteries one of two ways. If the battery was near enough its control shelter, it would be integrated into the larger battlefield command picture. Or, in a different location, it would operate autonomously, which complicated operations.
Both Kelley and Nate Jones became familiar with these choices during their respective Army careers. During Iraqi Freedom in the early 2000s, Jones deployed with his Army battalion from Germany to Israel to aid in that country’s defense. They brought along one control shelter and three of their five Patriot batteries. When the remaining two batteries got sent to Turkey to form a NATO Patriot Task Force, there was no extra control shelter to go with them, leaving them in an autonomous method of control.
“The proposed, smaller hardware would’ve solved that,” said Jones, an RMD product support senior manager. “It’s a game-changer in terms of flexibility and the scalability options it provides to a commander during a deployment, when they don’t have enough capacity … right now, when you take (a control shelter) and move it to a different battalion, you didn’t fix the problem, you just moved it.”
Unlike the heavy control shelters, which require a separate airplane to move, the newly proposed system’s five transit cases can be tossed into nearly any car, truck or plane. Throw in access to a household power supply, and you’re good to go. It’s also the same hardware soldiers train on, leading to limited real-world adaptation.
“For a rapid deployment scenario, you’ll need less airplanes to get this on the ground, up and running,” Kelley said. “To sustain the truck-mounted version, you need mechanics, spare parts, fuel and much more … With these cases, they can just go in a small corner of a plane, allowing for a cut-down on airlifts.”
As Jones puts it, “That’s a huge difference. When that battery lands and the new hardware is with it, it’s going to be ready to fight.”
It’s Just About Go Time
Raytheon Technologies delivered five of the hardware systems to the Army in November 2017, followed later by proposed software upgrades to the potential new interface.
Jones supported an exercise in Sweden that marked the third time this capability was used in Europe. It’s also been used in one in the Pacific.
“It included an initial buy of five of the systems, but there’s been strong interest in the Pacific and Europe by those who have used it and exercised it,” Kelley said. “There’s a growing desire for more.”