We have seen the future, and it is rife with increasing threats.
They are global in nature - unpredictable - coming from all distances, altitudes and speeds. This means that no nation, or system, can go at it alone. Effective missile defense requires partnership between industry and governments around the world to ensure a layered approach.
The 2019 U.S. Missile Defense Review presented a strategy for layered missile defense, a time-tested concept that encompasses all domains, from sea to space. Combined with a collaborative approach among cooperating nations, a multi-tiered defense can help protect Europe and other regions.
An array of complementary technologies create the necessary layers of defense. Serving the U.S., its friends and allies, Raytheon Technologies is fielding and developing missile defense systems like Patriot and introducing new advancements in counter-hypersonics and advanced early warning capability.
"The world is getting to a point where it’s not (just) ballistic missiles across the globe as the prime threat, or tactical short range missiles. There are mid-range, hypersonics, all these threats that drive a need for a space-sensing layer in the international community," said Wallis Laughrey, a vice president of Raytheon Technologies.
Staying ahead of the other guy
The need for space-based early warning and tracking could be met by technologies such as the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared, or Next-Gen OPIR, Block 0 resilient missile warning satellite. The U.S. Air Force has budgeted $1.7 billion to develop a constellation of Next-Gen OPIR satellites, according to Space News. Raytheon Technologies is one of two contractors chosen to develop the payload for these satellites.
Advanced sensors on satellites and other platforms make practical the U.S. Navy's ability to “launch on remote” or “engage on remote," allowing a naval commander to launch interceptors even before the ship's radar has pinned down the target. Distributed sensors, issuing a stream of data, allow for a "sensor-to-shooter" scenario, giving defenders the ability to act quickly on information from distant or nearby sensors.
“The shooter doesn’t need any other data other than what it gets from the radar to launch and engage and destroy that target," said Bryan Rosselli, a company vice president.
Filling the quiver
With adversaries racing to develop hypersonics, it's no wonder that faster-than-Mach 5 technologies are a dominant theme in the global conversation surrounding missile defense. Raytheon Technologies is working on several fronts to meet the technical challenges of operating at such high speeds.
Still, effective defense requires a full quiver of options; non-kinetic effects, cyber defenses and speed-of-light tech such as directed energy. And ultimately, advanced command and control, or C2, to manage the full suite of defenses.
“Future missile defense is much more than hypersonics,” said Mitch Stevison, a Raytheon Technologies vice president.
Stevison advocates for a new way to think about C2 that is a “leap ahead,” where C2 is decentralized, as opposed to having specific C2 physical nodes that could become targets.
“There must be interfaces to the system, where the combatant commanders have the ability to operate the system, but there is no centralized C2 node," he said. "Everything is a C2 node, whether it is an effector, a radar on the ground or a satellite with a space-based sensor on it. They all have the ability to operate as part of a network or to operate autonomously."