Redstone Arsenal Community
Dickinson highlights key developments in missile development and space
Story by Samantha Hill on 02/25/2019
The Army’s designated air and missile defense, or AMD, integrator said the Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command is making strides implementing the Army Vision 2028.
Speaking during the 24th annual Air, Space and Missile Defense Association luncheon on Feb. 21, SMDC/ARSTRAT’s commander Lt. Gen. James H. Dickinson outlined the threat of near-peer high-intensity conflict discussed in the vision and how AMD capabilities will be integrated.
“That is the character of today’s battlefield, and to dominate it, we will modernize our equipment, adapt our formations, and update our warfighting concepts and doctrine,” Dickinson said. “Our vision is that air and missile defense forces will be ready to deploy, fight and win against any adversary in a joint, combined, multi-domain, high-intensity conflict.”
To support the vision, the Missile Defense Review and the Multi-Domain Operations concept, the command is developing Army Air and Missile Defense 2028. To build on progress and ensure air and missile defense forces are ready to fight and win against adversaries at all times, Dickinson said the command will execute four lines of effort: modernize and develop AMD capabilities, build AMD capacity for multi-domain operations, provide trained and ready AMD forces, and maintain forward presence and build allied and partner capacity.
“With such a broadening of threats to defend against, we really know that there is no single capability that will be able to counter all of those threats,” Dickinson said. “In other words, there is no single silver bullet. Our future materiel solutions to address the adversary’s layered defenses will likely be a mix of guns, missiles, cyber, space and directed energy, which will comprise lasers as well as electronic warfare.”
Dickinson emphasized the success of the air and missile defense cross functional team with Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense. For M-SHORAD, the team has sped up the process of developing the capability and getting it into the hands of the Soldier.
“This CFT was able to accelerate the process for the approved, directed requirement from a process that takes two or three years or longer, to 90 days,” he said. “The first of the 144 Strykers are in production right now to equip the first four battalions in fiscal year 2021.”
He also highlighted the command’s progress with high energy lasers. Dickinson said Soldiers have utilized high energy lasers in training and demonstrated great competency.
“SMDC/ARSTRAT is the Army’s lead for high energy laser science and technology development, and we have been doing extensive experimentation with vehicle-mounted high energy lasers in counter-unmanned aerial vehicle applications,” he said. “It is a priority for the Army senior leadership and we understand that lasers are the future and gets us to the right side of the cost curve.”
The command is also engaged in developing hypersonic capabilities. The Army was the first service to successfully demonstrate a hypersonic weapon in November 2011. To support multi-domain operations, SMDC is continuing to move forward with hypersonic weapon research, development, test and evaluation.
With the increased interest in hypersonic technology development, the Army began the establishment of an Army Hypersonic Project Office. Standing up at Redstone Arsenal in 2019, the office will be overseen by Maj. Gen. Neil Thurgood. It will be responsible for producing a common hypersonic glide body, or C-HGB. The services and the Missile Defense Agency will adapt the C-HGB to meet their specific requirements. The office will also manage the development of the Army’s long-range hypersonic weapon, or LRHW.
Dickinson also outlined SMDC’s role in developing unique space capabilities. The command serves as the Army’s lead for small satellite development, demonstrating new technology like the Kestrel Eye imaging microsatellite. It is designed to be directly taskable and responsive to the lowest echelons, providing battlefield situational awareness.
In addition, SMDC provides support to NASA with an astronaut detachment assigned to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Army astronaut Lt. Col. Anne McClain launched in December to serve on the International Space Station as a flight engineer. Army astronaut Col. Drew Morgan is training and is expected to launch during the summer to the ISS, and Maj. Frank Rubio, an astronaut candidate, is completing his second year of training.
“That’s a very important thing for us as an Army that we have folks that quite frankly can make that cut,” Dickinson said.
During the luncheon, ASMDA members presented Justin Novak, a computer engineer at SMDC’s Future Warfare Center, with the Technical Achievement Award in the government individual category. He developed and demonstrated the Stinger Enhanced Target Acquisition Kit that improved air surveillance and situational awareness of the Forward Area Air Defense Tactical Heads-Up Display. Dickinson congratulated Novak and other award winners, and said the command’s workforce is its most precious asset.
“What you all do, what the organizations on Redstone Arsenal do, is very, very important in ensuring that we maintain superiority or overmatch over our near-peer or peer competitors,” he said. “It is very important that we put our Soldiers in a position where it is not a fair fight. By not a fair fight, I mean that we have the technical advantage that we have had in every war, and we provide that to the best Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen that the world has seen.”