By Dave Berganini
President, MEADS International
We have reviewed the article published 13 April in Rzeczpospolita by Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems Vice President John P. Baird. Mr. Baird attempts to scold Dr. Karkoszka by saying “during such an important program like the Wisła, it is extremely important that all sides have the most recent data, based on facts.” However, several inaccurate statements should be discussed and clarified in the spirit of all sides having “the facts.”
The U.S. Army has pledged to use the Patriot system at least until 2048, and on annual basis, allocates meaningful funds for its maintenance and modernization.
Fact – While it is true the U.S. intends to use the Patriot system for several more years, it is not true that meaningful funds have been allocated for its modernization. Research and Development (R&D) funding for the Patriot Product Improvement Program has been reduced by Congress for three consecutive years (FY13-15). Funding cuts have totaled $143M (57 percent) over this time period because of concerns about cost estimates, schedule credibility, and performance claims. FY15 saw the largest cut ($95M), leaving only $57M in the R&D account with strict guidelines on how it could be used. For FY16, the Pentagon requested $105.6M for Patriot R&D. This smaller budget request is planned for specific tasks, none of which applies to modernizing Patriot, yet is still expected to receive scrutiny from the Congress.
Regarding the U.S. Army specifically, a Patriot-centric modernization program similar to Patriot Next Generation (PNG) is simply not being pursued. The U.S. Army strategy is based on a new network-centric approach called Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD), which is focused on networking individual components. The battle manager for this future network-based AMD system is called the Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS). Technology development started in 2006, and a system development contract was awarded to Northrop Grumman over Raytheon in 2009. The IBCS program is 6 years into its $2.4B development contract with fielding planned for 2018. A new missile, radar, and launcher are to be used with IBCS to fulfill the IAMD architecture. The missile, the Lockheed Martin hit-to-kill PAC-3 MSE, has been chosen and is already in production. Only the radar and launcher remain to be determined.
To address its radar and launcher choices, the U.S. Army began a year-long study called an Analysis of Alternatives (AoA). The AoA will result in a 2016 acquisition program that selects a radar design no earlier than 2017. The MEADS lightweight 360-degree rotating AESA radars are included in the study, as is the 360-degree MEADS lightweight launcher. The MEADS launcher is considered a highly likely choice by most defense experts, so the real competition will be for the radar.
The U.S. withdrew MEADS funding because it did not meet the U.S. Army’s requirements.
Fact – The decision to not fund MEADS production was strictly driven by the budget. This is clear in the publicly available Department of Defense (DoD) announcement released in February 2011. It clearly states “The U.S cannot afford to purchase MEADS and make required upgrades to Patriot concurrently over the next two decades.” It further states “the costs of completing MEADS development and procuring MEADS to eventually replace Patriot would also require a significant concurrent investment in Patriot sustainment and modernization over the next two decades. Together, these costs are unaffordable in the current DoD budget environment.”
In supporting this decision, the DoD stated, “The U.S. proposes focusing the remaining activities to implement a ‘proof of concept’ effort with the remaining MOU funds that will provide a meaningful capability for Germany and Italy and a possible future option for the U.S.” It’s important to note that when MEADS development started, it was because Patriot did not and still does not meet US requirements. Today, the U.S. is now formally analyzing MEADS components as a future option because Patriot does not meet future U.S. Army requirements.
Patriot is the only system tested in battlefield conditions. The system had its baptism of fire in operation “Desert Storm” and then, deeply modernized, in operation “Iraqi Freedom.”
Fact – Patriot was designed in the 1960s and 1970s to counter the Soviet Cold War aircraft threat. The launchers and radars first fielded in 1984 were extremely heavy by today’s standards (weighing almost 80,000 pounds each) and only able to see and shoot in one direction. The software was JOVIAL based and proprietary. As a result, major modifications to the system were nearly impossible and certainly not cost effective. Today, Patriot remains heavy, directionally sectored, and retains a closed and proprietary software architecture with a basis in JOVIAL code. After 4 decades, Patriot’s limitations remain.
Just as important, Patriot does not meet current U.S. requirements. Although some fixes have been made to the Patriot system, they have not resulted in a 360-degree system with an open architecture and plug-and-fight capability that is highly mobile and transportable. No system without these capabilities could be considered to be “deeply modernized.”
The Patriot system is the only one that is 100 percent compatible with NATO systems.
Fact – Many systems in NATO countries are “100 percent compatible” with other NATO systems. To suggest that only Patriot is compatible assumes vast reader ignorance on the part of Mr. Baird. MEADS, for example, is a NATO-managed program designed to be 100% compatible with NATO standards and to be interoperable with NATO systems. This interoperability was proven during NATO exercises in 2013 and 2014 in which German and Italian air defenders used the MEADS battle manager software to configure battle elements from MEADS, German Patriot, and Italian SAMP/T systems to generate a common air picture and cooperatively defeat stressing threat scenarios.
The system is in fact an evolution and many of the proven elements from the current system will be preserved. Moreover, some elements of that system are already emerging, like the mentioned AESA radar of 360 degrees sight.
Fact – Raytheon has questioned the need for a 360-degree radar for the past two decades despite the need for such a capability having been established by combat experience and confirmed by the U.S. government. Only when the Polish competition appeared in doubt did they patch together a concept for 360-degree coverage. PNG takes Patriot’s current radar design and adds two additional radar fins (arrays) to provide limited 360-degree coverage to the sides and rear. The new arrays still lack capability against ballistic missiles or highly sophisticated cruise missiles. Actual performance improvement is questionable, since the motivation for the AESA radar upgrade was to improve reliability.
The current Patriot launchers remain the same – sectored and not 360-degree capable. Since PNG requires that each array have dedicated missile launchers assigned to it, the already limited set of Patriot launchers would need to be distributed among the three individual arrays, where they are only able to engage targets approaching in their sector. Additional launchers may be required, as a result, to maintain Patriot’s directional intercept capability against robust attacks.
This also means the PAC-3 MSE missile proposed for PNG will not be able to perform to its full capability. Its flight path will be limited to the sector of the individual arrays and unable to engage targets in a full 360 degrees.
Raytheon is introducing the open architecture and network-centric capability – for the Republic of Korea. The Patriot Next Generation batteries will be already equipped with these elements, and the first batteries delivered in Configuration 3+ will be also upgraded and will meet the MoD’s requirements.
Fact – Open architecture and network-centric capabilities must be designed into systems from their initial concept. This is not something that gets added on 40 years later. Critical portions of the Patriot system, including the radar and launchers, were developed using a now-outdated software code called JOVIAL, which will be retained in PNG. JOVIAL has not been used in other applications for the past 30 years. As a result, Raytheon must maintain Patriot-unique compilers to support JOVIAL. Other contractors are unable to modify the software..
Further, the high-speed processors and massive memory capabilities in use today were not available at the start of the Patriot program in the 1970s. As a result, embedded code inside the hardware was optimized for the original configuration to derive the required speed and small footprints. Today, Patriot hardware changes can cause major and very expensive repercussions in the software domain.
To truly modernize Patriot and achieve an open architecture, Raytheon would need to re-engineer the system completely from scratch to permit processor/hardware upgrades and the insertion of a modern and modular software system. Because of prohibitive cost, the U.S. Government has refused to fund this path. This is the primary reason why two completely new development programs costing over $6B were supported by the U.S.: MEADS, and now the Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS).