U.S. Army Coins reach deal with Dynetics to build drone and cruise missile countermeasures system

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military has finalized a $ 247 million contract with Leidos-owned Dynetics to build prototypes of its durable system to counter threats from drones and cruise missiles, confirming the decision that Defense News took over last month.

Dynetics will deliver 16 launchers, 60 interceptors and associated multipurpose chargers to the military over a performance period ending March 31, 2024, according to the military leaders in charge of the effort.

By the fourth quarter of fiscal 2023, Dynetics will make 12 launchers available to the military, Major General Robert Rasch, the service’s program manager for missiles and space, told a group of journalists during a briefing on September 24.

The service aims for the Indirect Fire Protection Capability System, or IFPC, to protect critical fixed or semi-fixed assets and be a more mobile solution than would suffice for an advanced operating base.

The deal comes after the service staged a barrage between Dynetics and a team from Rafael and Raytheon Technologies.

Israel-based Raytheon and Rafael offered the Iron Dome launcher and the Tamir interceptor (known as SkyHunter in the US), while Huntsville-based Dynetics brought Enduring Shield, with a launcher based on one developed in-house by the military, but later canceled Multi-Mission Launcher as well as the Sidewinder AIM-9X interceptor produced by Raytheon.

The military had initially planned to develop and commission its own multi-mission launcher as part of the durable solution, but canceled that program in favor of finding a more technologically mature launcher.

Both teams were fortunate enough to bring in combinations of launchers and interceptors to fire at representative threat targets at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, earlier this year.

The military is using Iron Dome as an interim cruise missile defense capability as it strives to adopt a sustainable system of indirect fire protection capability, or IFPC, which will initially be able to counter threats from aircraft without pilot and cruise missiles and later be able to take out rockets, artillery and mortars.

Rasch said the barrage was only intended to provide data to vendors as they developed proposals for the military.

Plus, the shoot-off “wasn’t about hits or failures,” Rasch said. “This was to demonstrate that the sensor destruction chain – in this case the Sentinel radar – providing data, fire control quality data, to the integrated air and missile defense combat command system – IBCS – which then creates a fire control engagement for the launcher and interceptor to engage in. This is the main data we have collected, this is what we have provided to industry partners so that ‘they can then write their final proposals.

As per the IFPC solicitation, the military wanted solutions that could link to current and future versions of Sentinel radar and be integrated into the service’s IBCS.

After the prototyping phase, the military can initiate a follow-up production contract for 400 launchers and associated interceptors, according to the tender. This decision will come in FY23, according to Rasch, with an entry point into a production phase.

According to the request of the service, it planned to select the proposal “the most advantageous and representing the best value for the [U.S. government] on the basis of an integrated assessment of the results of the assessment.

The military said whether the proposals met the capability requirements to counter UAS and cruise missiles was more important than countering RAM threats. Timing and price were also factors, but ranked lower priority, the solicitation noted.

“Capacity is more important than timing. The timing is more important than the price, ”said the solicitation. “However, price can be used as a determining factor when evaluations of acceptable proposals are tightly clustered. “

According to Pentagon budget documents for FY22, the price of the AIM-9X missile dropped from about $ 350,000 per missile in FY20, when the department purchased 846 interceptors, to about $ 500,000. per shot in FY 22, when the DoD plans to spend $ 250.8 million on 421 interceptors. The Tamir missile’s unit cost is $ 189,000, according to the Army’s FY22 exercise budget justification books.

The service also planned to evaluate the proposals based on their ability to support future RAM capacities.

Dynetics has relevant experience in the design of launchers, from its history on the army’s multi-mission launcher program to current efforts to build the army’s ground-launched hypersonic missile launcher. Dynetics also built the first glide bodies for these hypersonic missiles.

Jen Judson is the Ground War Reporter for Defense News. She covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a journalist for Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club’s Best Analytical Reporting Award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards’ Best Young Defense Journalist in 2018.


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