In Europe, the threats are very complicated (…) An air defense unit cannot only look at one target, each unit must have a full picture, and this leads to the need for having the ability to track targets at 360 degrees. Without this feature, you cannot rely on the air defense system - Howard B. Bromberg, retired Lieutenant General of the U.S. Army, vice president and deputy of strategy and business development in the department of Air Defense Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control says in an interview with Defense24.pl.
The recent NATO summit ended with a declaration to strengthen military presence on the eastern flank of the Alliance. At the same time, however, allied countries, particularly those in Central and Eastern Europe, are declaring their willingness to strengthen their own defense capabilities. How does the MEADS offer fit into all of this?
I observed with great interest the discussions and outcomes of the NATO Summit. It is clear that there is a need for the creation of air defense capabilities in Central and Eastern Europe. Therefore, we want to be actively involved in that process, and to show what the capabilities of the system that we offer are. That is why we are holding talks with representatives of government, military and industry on the capabilities of the MEADS system.
Do you have in mind here mainly Poland, or generally the entire region of Central and Eastern Europe?
We take into account not only Poland, although of course at this time they are a key country in the region and therefore there are lot of ongoing discussions here. We are also talking to other NATO member countries and other European countries. My main goal is to learn from different countries, different governments, different armies, what their concerns are, what problems they want solved. It is also necessary to learn what future air defense capability they want to achieve.
In 2015, MEADS was chosen as the basis for the prospective air defense system of the Bundeswehr. Originally it was expected that the contract would be signed by the end of this year, but there are now reports of delays.
This is not a delay. We were selected by the German government last year. Currently, we are finishing our answer to the German government’s Request for Proposal; we are going to send it soon to the authorities in Berlin. We look forward to beginning our negotiations and getting under contract as soon as possible. Hence, we are in a very good position in this regard and I have no concerns about the final result of these negotiations and agreement.
The TLVS program assumes that you achieve “milestones”, complete specific stages in a given time.
I have every confidence that the milestones will be met. We are working closely with our partner MBDA on all of the details of the contract and I see no barriers to successfully receiving and executing the TLVS contract.
How does Germany’s decision and negotiations affect the possibilities for MEADS sales to other countries?
I think that other countries that we have started a dialogue with are watching global air and missile defense decisions closely. They also realize, however, that because of the capabilities they seek, it is not possible to achieve them with current systems. Hence, we are currently getting a lot of requests for information (Request for Information) from various countries.
But we also recognize some countries have capabilities, for example domestically produced sensors, and do not want to get rid of them. They want to use those solutions in their defense structure. Therefore, when they see the MEADS system’s capabilities and understand its open architecture, it solicits real interest.
A few weeks ago, Raytheon, MEADS’s competitor, signed a Letter of Intent with PGZ. According to official information, it committed to transferring at least 50% of the Patriot production to Polish plants. Is MEADS and Lockheed Martin ready to prepare a similar offer for our country?
There has been much public discussion about the Patriot offer’s true price and delivery schedule as well as the quantity and quality of the work to be shared with Polish industry. Now, just a few months later, our competitor is stating their Patriot offer includes 50% workshare for current Patriot units. Experience and common sense suggests that this claim should receive scrutiny. For example, how could Polish industry produce 50% of a Patriot unit when the vast majority of production capabilities are not in Poland today. Clearly, transferring this capability and expertise and building the necessary production facilities would require significant time and money. It is also being reported that all of this effort can be completed in 24 months. One has to ask does this make sense?
Our competitors offer presents some questionable workshare goals. Our offer is based on technologically advanced industrial workshare and one of the most attractive points of our offer is that Poland can become an equal partner in this project. That means that Poland will tailor and produce Polish MEADS systems, which we expect to be at least 40% of the development, production and sustainment of the MEADS Wisla program. In fact, this number strikes a balance between the time needed to build the appropriate facilities in Poland, grow industrial capability and takes into account desired delivery timelines. That said, we are in discussions with the MoD to add even more workshare but do so in a credible and smart way. But that is only part of the offer. As a partner or co-owner of MEADS International, Polish companies will be guaranteed additional work as a MEADS partner nation in global 3rd party sales which we conservatively estimate to be 150% of the WISLA budget.
Poland is also working on another air defense system, the short-range Narew system. Ultimately, the two systems are to be combined in a single air defense system. What role could MEADS play in the construction of such an integrated system?
When you look at the path that Germany is taking they are essentially combining their long range and short range missile defense systems into one system called TLVS. And they are doing that with a budget of 4 billion euros. This is exactly the opportunity Poland has as well with MEADS. To take the MEADS plug and fight, open architecture and add a short range interceptor that they can develop indigenously; this solution can be developed at a fraction of the costs being discussed today for two systems.
Is it important which system, the short-range or medium-range, will be purchased first?
No matter which capability is selected to move forward first, this solution should be based on an integrated system that can handle both threats. MEADS with its open plug-and-fight architecture is well positioned for this solution.
Lockheed Martin took over Sikorsky and PZL Mielec. Is their involvement envisioned in missile technology programs, such as MEADS or HIMARS, at this time?
With the purchase of Sikorsky we obviously increased our footprint and industrial capabilities in Poland. This adds opportunities for all Lockheed Martin associated programs and we are looking at it closely.
In the past two years, missile defense systems were used extensively in the Middle East, the war in Yemen. What specific experiences and conclusions can manufacturers of air defense systems come away with from that conflict?
If in a given theater the only threat present is short range ballistic missiles, one could argue the current capabilities may be sufficient. But if we are dealing with the current and future complex threat environment, which includes short-range missiles, as well as medium and long-range ones, aircraft, cruise missiles and other maneuvering targets, this puts the air-defense system in a completely different situation. An air defense unit cannot only look at one target, each unit must have a full picture, and this leads to the need for having the ability to track targets at 360 degrees. Without this feature, you cannot rely on the air defense system. I was personally involved in a situation where target flew in from the right side of our batteries. Fortunately, no one died, but it hit our area because we could not see it.
And what about the system’s long-term operationability, the time it takes to use the system?
Operational experience demands that systems be ready at all times. They also must be highly mobile. MEADS provides those capabilities in a flexible form, which will stand up to future threats. In a complex threat environment, including not only ballistic and cruise missiles, but also, for example aircraft, mobility is particularly important. Added to this is the need for the ability to quickly change positions and to be ready to go again, so as to reduce the system vulnerability to the opponent’s actions or the changing battlefield environment. If we consider high numbers of threats and attacks then reloading will be important in when threatened by multiple missiles simultaneously.
For these reasons, MEADS meets the demands for air defense systems. You cannot predict with certainty what the dangers will be in 3, 5, 10, or 15 years. Therefore, it is vital to have a defense system that is flexible, mobile and able to combat threat in 360 degrees, and not only in a particular sector.
Poland borders Russia, which in recent years has conducted a large-scale modernization of its offensive capabilities. I am referring to modern cruise missiles such as Calibrate and Ch-101/102, Iskander ballistic missiles or the new Su-34 bombers. In this context, I am wondering if it is at all possible to create a system that will guarantee us full security? Of course, this does not only concern “Wisla”, but can an integrated, layered system that provides 100% protection against such complex threats be created?
A missile defense architecture is at its strongest when it works in a layered and networked approach and uses all available capabilities. Poland is positioned well to work towards this goal. A missile defense system like MEADS that utilizes the PAC-3 MSE missile for medium and long range threats and then combines that protection with a short-range interceptor to handle less challenging threats like aircraft and UAVs, will provide an effective layer of protection. But keep in mind the need to strike a balance between defense and offense. You must have the ability for simultaneously defending and conducting strikes.
You cannot win a war using only shields, defensive systems.
Correct. You need a balance of modern Air and Missile Defense protection complemented by strike capabilities to eliminate these threats. Lockheed Martin’s HOMAR and JASSM solutions are examples that provide this capability.
During the Cold War, the United States and the NATO allies were using anti-aircraft missiles equipped with explosive warheads, including nuclear ones, for example, the Nike Hercules. Today, however, it seems that the modernization of missile defense in the United States is heading toward hit-to-kill systems or kinetic weapons without explosives. Why is that?
A fragmentation warhead cannot ensure the destruction of a hostile missile’s warhead. Further, hit-to-kill missiles allow for the complete elimination of the target. This is especially important given they could be carrying weapons of mass destruction. Lockheed Martin pioneered the development of hit-to-kill technology available in our PAC-3 missiles. In fact, we have now developed a new solution called Miniature Hit-To-Kill Missile, designed for short-range systems. Recently, an engineering test of the system took place where we successfully demonstrated the advancement of this miniature hit-to-kill technology.
There is a public discussion on the timeframe for the delivery. MEADS’s competitors indicate that the existing system could be delivered in less time, and then upgraded to the final solution. When is MEADS able to provide Poland with the first batteries? Is it possible to simultaneously execute contracts for German and Poland, if Warsaw decides to buy the system?
Regardless of the date on which we sign the contract we are able to deliver the first unit within 50 months. It's certainly faster than our competitor’s first delivery of a new generation system. Therefore Poland would receive a modern, omni-directional and open system sooner, at a better price, with state of the art interceptors. Delivery within 50 months is fully feasible even when combined with the German TLVS program.
Let’s remember that our competitor is now only proposing current-configuration Patriot units with its latest upgraded software package called Post Development Build - 8 (PDB-8). PDB-8 is not a modernized version of Patriot, but simply its latest required upgrade. PDB-8 retains the 40-year-old Patriot system design which has not been sold in Europe during the past 30 years. It fails to meet the basic Polish military requirements for a 360-degree, network-centric, mobile and open-architecture system. It is a sectored, standalone system with a proprietary and closed architecture. Even so, it will still take 2-3 years to deliver the PDB-8 units and the cost will not be insignificant.
Assuming that deliveries take place within 50 months, a question arises whether Polish industry will be able to fully participate in the work.
It will be full participation from day one. It is a partnership, which is much more than just being a buyer it is a co-owner.
Therefore, you require 50 months not only for production, but to transfer the technology to Poland, as well.
Yes as discussed previously all of that was taken into account when determining the 50 months and the level of Polish industry participation.
Polish commentators fear an attack using Iskanders from the Kaliningrad region. Is the PAC-3 MSE able to cope with this kind of threat?
Rest assured the PAC-3 MSE missile is capable of destroying today’s challenging threats as well as evolving threats. The following package is needed: 360-degree radar, a networked command center, a Near Vertical Launcher and hit-to-kill missile technology. The highest chances of success are ensured by having a modern, integrated system.
I would also like to ask about Patriot, in the past you served as commander of such an air-defense system. To what extent does Patriot answer the threats that are present in Europe today?
I served on the Patriot system, as well as older systems in Europe. I was part of a NATO evaluation team. In Europe, the threats are very complicated. That is why it is so important to have the broadest and most advanced capabilities. Air defense in Europe cannot be limited by sectored systems.
MEADS was developed to address Patriot’s limitations. No longer can countries invest their procurement dollars in outdated systems that have a closed, proprietary architecture, are extremely challenging to move and don’t provide protection from threats coming from any direction. Further, with MEADS only, the full 360 degree reach of the PAC-3 MSE missile is realized. For me, the only choice is MEADS.
Thank you for the interview. (Andrzej Hladij and Juliusz Sabak – Defence24 – 8/19/2016)
Howard B. Bromberg is the vice president and deputy of strategy and business development in the department of Air Defense Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. He is a retired Lieutenant General of the U.S. Army. During his career, he was, among other things, a commander of the U.S. Army’s Air Defense School at Fort Bliss, Texas, chief of the 32nd Air Defense Command as well as U.S. Army Missile during Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and US Army Deputy Chief of Staff. He served in air defense units, including having command posts in Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific region.