Long-Range Strike: MITRE, Janes & Pallas Advisors on the one capability to rule them all…fact v myth
- Welcome, I'm James Swartout. I'm the Director of National Security Policy for MITRE Center for Data-Driven Policy. The Center was created to bring data-driven insights to stakeholders who operate in the public policy space.
And as the Center nears its one year anniversary, I really wanna thank you on behalf of the team for tuning into this timely discussion on Long Range Strike. And with that, I'll turn it over to the panel's moderator. Paul Benfield. - Great, thanks James. Appreciate everybody for joining today. Appreciate the team at MITRE for putting this together and the team at Janes for helping us out As James said, the topic today is as long-range fires and kind of as a scene setter, I just wanna highlight the fact that Russia as a longtime violator of INF and China as not a signatory to the INF, both have multiple rocket and missile systems with ranges well over 500 kilometers, which the United States has been slow to catch up with.
In March of this year, the former INDOPACOM commander, Admiral Davidson, in a congressional testimony stressed the need for the Department of Defense to have precision-strike fires featuring increased quantities of ground-based missiles and improved air and long range Naval fires capable of ranges over 500 kilometers. And as the MITRE folks know very well, numerous exercises of war games have demonstrated the capability requirements for ground-based, long-range precision fires for the Joint Force, both in the Indo-Pacific and in the European theater. This year, the FY '22 budget request from the Department of Defense requested $6.6 billion for multi-service, multi-domain offensive long-range fires.
So the question for the panel today, which I know they are all well versed in, is are these priorities correct, are the efforts enough and where should the Department focus in this important modernization priority? When we talk about long-range fires, it is hypersonics; whether it's Tactical Boost Glide, air-breathing hypersonics. It is also surface-to-surface. So extended range cannon artillery from the Army.
Precision strike missiles, the Strategic Long Range Cannon. The Navy is also looking at extending the range of Tomahawk Cruise Missiles and the Navy's Standard Missile SM-6. So with that, I'm going to introduce the panel. I'm gonna turn it over to them for some initial opening comments.
We're gonna do a couple minutes of moderated Q and A and then I would ask the audience, if you do have questions, please use the chat function and submit your questions and we'll be happy to get to those after the opening comments. So Hamilton Cook from Janes Defense, Greg Grant from MITRE and Mark Seip from MITRE. I will now turn it over to Hamilton for some initial comments, Hamilton. - Thanks, Paul. I think my thoughts on the matter of this.
Right now when we talk about long-range fires, we talk about them as strategic fires, but we're not planning for them strategically nor talking about them tactically. Right now we talk about hypersonics in the same way we talked about the bomber gap in 1955. We know our greatest rivals have them. They might be better than ours. They're building many, many more.
Their appearance has caught us off guard and it's a great talking point for politicians, the Services and industry. But in terms of what we do actually know, all we really know at this point is that we need hypersonics and we need to start building them now. The FY '22 budget put aside $3.8 billion
for the development and construction of hypersonic weapons. And that number's gonna grow as we see long-range hypersonic weapon, ARRW and Conventional Prompt Strike, move into the later stages of development and production. Yet in many ways, that's just a best guess. Because for as many of these panels and articles that we all attend and read, there are many basic questions that we haven't really seen discussions about.
Things like what other than other hypersonic weapons are there going to be the priority targets and what aren't? How are these weapons going to be affecting these targets; explosively, kinetic effects, things like that? And which one of those effectors need to be prioritized to defeat those priority targets? Do the Services need to shape their individual offerings around those targets sets? Then you end up with complicated, interdepartmental questions, like what are the nuclear arms control implications of a submarine-launched hypersonic weapon? And that's before you even really get into the complex engineering challenges of how these all work. And without having these discussions around a lot of these issues both large and small, we end up chasing the perfect 50 caliber silver bullet that we think can do everything. Because we don't quite know what we're prioritizing. We don't know what we're willing to trade off against in order to get it. Is it range, stopping power, cost, timeline, production capacity? And figuring out what we're willing to trade off is going to be important because we're entering a budget era in which we're going to have to trade off more than we would like. In all likelihood, the next decade is going to be marked by fairly flat investment budgets.
They could range from the optimistic 3% that we saw in the last FYDP to some of what we've forecasted internally. Scenarios where we see a substantial budget fight in '23 or '24 without the stabilizing effect of the Budget Control Act. And investment spending doesn't really recover to current levels till '27 or '28. And that's before you account for things like the debt, potential tax changes, stimulus packages or even inflation. And that's a big deal because the infusion of the development and procurement spending we've seen over the last few years is starting to get squeezed out by personnel and O&M costs already. Those are growing at twice the rate of the overall budget in total and that's going to force a lot of pain on the Services when they're budgeting.
Because a lot of the money that we saw pushed into the Services over the last few years, went to buying out a legacy system, production lines and replenishing war stocks. And so now when we're coming off of that and trying to move to next stages of development and fielding next generation technologies, those aren't going to be facing returns to just historic production levels, but even potential accelerated early sunset to clear cap space so we can fund those emerging priorities. And that's going to be painful for industry and make these budget fights all the tougher. Because in all this pressurized budget environment, we need to know actually how important hypersonics is going to be to our CONOPS so we can make those trade-offs and know. Because the Services are gonna have to trade them off against something.
Is it going to be scaling back nuclear recapitalization that's already going to SSN, large tracks of ship building, aircraft and missile budgets. Is it slowing the long delayed replacement of ground vehicles and helicopters that are a legacy from post-Vietnam recapitalization? Is it limiting S&T spending for next generation technologies and materials at a time when hypersonics is itself proving how much time it takes to develop and also field an industrial base capable of fielding those at scale. However, the biggest trade off in terms of hypersonics that we're making is the one that I've been demonstrating for the last four minutes, making hypersonics be the end-all be-all of long-range strikes and pushing out the development of new, non-hypersonic weapons. Right now, it is absurd to say the Services might be over-prioritizing hypersonic weapons due to the significant technological barriers needed to be conquered in order to develop a day one strike weapon.
And maybe under-investing in the day two plus weapons that will be cheaper, easier to deploy and faster to replenish. This in turn gets heightened because the few investments that we have made for day two plus and strike has been reactionary to maintain the status quo, maintaining standoff, utilizing new launch platforms in the same way, anti-jam GPS and data links to get all around jamming and seeker updates to take on new targets. Rather than looking at game breaking attacks that are really why we're so prizing hypersonics; speed, payloads or even odd delivery systems that change fundamentally how we fight. Because what ended up fielding the bomber gap, wasn't us closing it.
It was a rising tide of innovations that meant not every bomber could get through and on top of that, we had other options so that they didn't have to. I know I could go on, but this is a pair of subject I know Greg holds quite dear, so I'm happy to turn it over to him. - Thanks, Hamilton. Let me pick up on an important point Hamilton made, the distraction of the site shiny object in the form of hypersonics.
Which can result, as he mentioned, in under-investing in cheaper, easier to deploy and faster to replenish weapons. This was not an entirely unpredictable outcome. Back in 2015 and 2016 when I was still in OSD, there was a lot of pressure coming from the White House, OSTP and OMB to increase funding for hypersonic weapon development.
The concern back then though among many of us in OSD was that it would divert funding away from munitions in real need, towards the shiny object. Sure enough, soon hypersonics became the end all. The DOD's director had already under the previous administration, declared hypersonics is number one priority. This was a far cry from what we advocated for in the halcyon days of the Third Offset Strategy.
That is payloads over platforms and many low cost effectors. For example at the time, we were looking at quick-strike mines and how to increase their range and build in big numbers or building a power JDAM with an anti-ship sensor. Some way to respond to PACOM pleading for a cheap standoff anti-ship capability.
Well, somehow we went from emphasizing small, smart, many low cost payloads, to few, exquisite and exceedingly costly. And while I believe hypersonics have utility, some of the arguments made by advocates are a little shaky. Primarily because other countries are building hypersonics, we must. I'm not sure that why this is strictly relevant, since we won't put our hypersonics directly against theirs in a hypersonics off.
We either need, can build and can field the capability in a specific timeframe or we don't. Or over-hypersonics, as Hamilton mentioned, raises some serious questions that I don't think have been adequately answered. For one, they would be considered theater assets, which means release authority will go up the chain.
How prompt will their strike really be in this case? Can we really get after fleeting targets with hypersonics? And our targeting situation is very different, than say China's. And how does the U.S. military win a fight against a nuclear armed adversary and carry out large strikes against their homeland? How many strikes can the Joint Force carry out inside Russia before running into an escalation problem? I think these questions need to be asked and answered before we go down this path too far. And in the meantime, we still haven't addressed the munitions crisis.
And let me tell you the preferred munitions picture is all sorts of ugly. Paul mentioned the current spend, but DOD is beginning in a very deep hole dug over many, many years. Because DOD's munitions accounts have long served as convenient bill payers and internal budget battles. The number of weapons we have is far more limited than most people understand and, particularly, of weapons we can actually get to the target. This bodes very ill for any potential high-income conflict, because as history teaches us wartime munitions expenditure rates far exceed those of peace time estimates.
During recent counter-ISO operations, we were dropping so many bombs that DOD was running short of JDAMS and STPs. Had to get CENTCOM to adjust its aircraft loadout and use more pay waste. Up-to-date war games or recent war games showed that in a high-end conflict preferred weapons expenditures are exceedingly high, leading everyone to kind of throw up their hands on days four and five of a conflict and say now what do we do? We're headed for a situation where we could have ships steaming around with empty VLSs while an adversary is still able to generate missile salvos.
I believe it's well past time we have a forthright conversation about the dismal state of our munition stockpiles. And it's not just a numbers crisis, as Hamilton noted. Rather than focusing resources on an increasing weapon speed should focus more effort and resources on reducing survivability issues for preferred munitions.
That means building in a greater ability to self coordinate engagements through machine teaming, autonomously sharing target ID, conducting target weapon pairing and coordinated attacks. Now DOD is trying to ramp up industry, but it's not buying in sufficient quantity for industry to really increase their production lines. Because of the high cost and low quantity of missiles procured, it's difficult to maintain consistent and steady demand. The problem is we lack manufacturing capacity. Today, two out of a total of five total of prime contractors account for roughly 97% of DOD's missile procurement funding. There are only two domestic suppliers of solid rocket motors for DOD missiles.
And the increased demand for hypersonic weapons will place even more demands on a shrinking munitions industrial base, all of which is not a recipe for success. Now contrast this with China that created an entire branch dedicated to munitions, the PLA Rocket Force that focuses on extraordinarily fast production, as well as, constant upgrades to their advanced munitions inventory. When compared to Chinese munitions production, U.S. stockpiles and production capacity paint a picture even more grim than the widely discussed Navy shipbuilding crisis. Yet, there's very little impetus by either DOD or Congress to make big changes. You know one example in the NDAA the House just plussed up missiles of defense to the tune of 780 million, but there were no big adds for munitions.
So welcome to the mature, precision-guided munitions regime, where DOD finds itself having to scramble to develop new longer range-strike systems, yet is constrained in terms of output because of limited manufacturing capacity. "We are witnessing the emergence of an era of missile warfare," Marine Corps Commandant Berger recently said. And he acknowledged that the operational challenges posed by a mature precision-strike regime will require sweeping changes to core structure, capabilities and concepts. No question it as some have been saying for some time now. I was recently rereading a paper by Professor Tom Mahnken, dating from 2011, titled "The Growth and Spread of the Precision-Strike Regime".
Besides an interesting survey in that paper of U.S. officers attending professional military educational institutions from the year 2000 where 9% of officers believed that future adversaries would be unable to use long, or only, I'm sorry. Only 9% of officers believed that future adversaries would be able to use long-range, precision-strike weapons, such as ballistic and cruise missiles to destroy fixed military infrastructure such as ports and airfields. Only 12% believe that they would be able to use such weapons to target carriers at sea. Yet, both China and Russia observed U.S. operations in Desert Storm in '91 and recognized that guided munitions for battle network warfare was emerging as the dominant war-fighting paradigm.
And as our great power rivals built up their ability to wage theater-level precision-guided munitions warfare, DOD moved in the opposite direction. Because permissive environments were assumed and the air defense systems of lightweight, regional powers were not considered a major threat. Thus long-range precision munitions to defeat advanced adversary threat systems were not a priority. China, in particular, embraced what have some have termed a projectile-centric strategy based around long-range ballistic and cruise missiles, as opposed to the airborne platform-based means of U.S. long-range strike. So now our great power rivals have guided munitions parodies and that's something we've never faced before. So in the interest of getting to questions and discussion, let me just touch on one important implication of that parody.
In terms of a China scenario, advocates of a denial strategy contend the only way to prevent China's fait accompli strategy is to build up the U.S. military's forward defenses in the Western Pacific. Referred to in the National Defense Strategy as the blunt layer. Unless U.S. Forces are in theater, they argue, prior to the outbreak of hostilities and ready to immediately engage a PLA assault forces coming from the United States and the other theaters at the time openings and advantage to prevent such a fait accompli. Yet, there is a real cost of maintaining combat credible forces forward to pull it in a true precision-strike regime.
It comes in the form of diminished offensive strike capability, because they require so much capacity and capability devoted to ensuring their own survival. The problem is that forward-based U.S. forces and infrastructure must be sufficiently robust to withstand initial attacks by enemy missile salvos. And the more force structure deployed forward inside adversary precision missile range, the more basing and support infrastructure required for support and sustaining.
Which then translates into requirement for more missile defense for survivability. In similar fashion, remain combat credible forward deployed Naval platforms must increase their defensive armament which comes at the expense of offensive strike weapons, as their magazine capacity is limited. This ultimately will lead to a point of diminishing returns where the Force dedicates such significant amounts and quantities of its combat power to ensure its own survival that it begins to lose offensive utility. Yet to provide a credible deterrent, the Joint Forces must be able to operate inside of an adversary's weapons engagement zone, the dreaded WEZ.
Yet, DOD is on the wrong end of the cost competition in this area and must find ways to flip the cost equation. Including ways to compel adversaries to empty their missile magazines with no effect, as missiles are as we know, one shot weapons and missile magazines are not inexhaustible. This approach won't entail only kinetics solutions. In fact, kinetic solutions are usually cost prohibitive.
More promising is some combination of active and passive countermeasures, including dispersal, deception, concealment and spoofing. There are also relatively inexpensive approaches, such as hardening aircraft shelters, which would force adversary to use unitary rounds instead of cluster or airburst munitions. Many of these same operational challenges were manifest during the Cold War and an over-concentration of infrastructure and a lack of hardening were frequently cited as NATO weaknesses during the 1970s and 1980s. An expectation of heavy strikes against airbases by the Soviets, NATO began to widely disperse aircraft in many different air strips and hardened shelters, instead of arraying them in straight lines on taxiways.
Dispersal greatly complicates adversary targeting at the tactical and operational level. War gaming analysis, however, is essential to ensure that the Joint Forces disperse to a degree that offers operational advantage, that imposes costs on China, but not to such a degree that it impedes its ability to amass combat power. I'm not sure we fully understand the logistics and manpower challenges associated with dynamic (indistinct). The key is to be resilient and be able to fight through enemy attacks and continue landing punches to keep the adversary off balance. And given industrial-based concerns, it will be important and, absolutely, vital to avoid suffering major attrition early in a protracted war.
Let me stop there and turn it to Mark Seip. - All right. Thanks, Greg, for the introduction and to my colleague Hamilton as well. I'm gonna completely pile on to some of the questions Hamilton raised, as well as, tee off of something that Greg kind of teed on. Even as Greg and Hamilton are talking about some of the actual weapon systems, whether it's hypersonics or their long range, the other whole angle to this long-range strike and precision regime that Greg alluded to is how do you find the targets and then how do you drive the missile, in this case since we're talking mostly about missiles and kinetic systems, to the target in question? Vice Chairman Hyten during a conversation about hypersonics said, and I quote, "You wanted weapons that would enable responsive, long-range strike options against distant, defended, and/or time-critical threats, such as road-mobile missiles, when other forces are unavailable, denied access or not preferred." For those of you have any background or history in the First Gulf War, the Scud missile hunting, or for those of us who served maybe during Operation Northern or Southern Watch and, of course, follow on actions in Iraq, you know that even under the best of circumstances finding TELs, you know the Transporter Erector Launcher Systems and/or mobile SAMs is difficult at best when you have a permissive sensing environment for lack of something better to say.
So that when you start looking at Vice Chairman Hyten's requirement and you start looking at some of these systems, the ability to execute the kill chain in an effective manner and to support it, really becomes a question mark that I have yet to see through some of the conversation that Hamilton's alluded to and, certainly, some of the requirements that Greg's laid out. I have yet to see in a coherent manner and yes, for my JADC2 friends out there, I'm gonna hit on JADC2. So you need not worry. We're gonna talk about that in a second.
When you start looking at time of flights of some of these weapons systems, as a reminder and to be clear, I'm not a math major. So public math is very difficult for me, so I wrote this down. A Mach Five hypersonic missile at max range for what the army is declaring is about 1700 miles. It's still a 30 minute time of flight. And for again, any of you who may not be familiar with how mobile TELs and mobile SAMs doctrine work, the types of competitors we're gonna go up against definitely can set up shoot and shut it down in 30 minutes.
And so how you think you're gonna get a missile to go max range of flight and get it to where it needs to be, to include the initial queuing source, maybe some kind of midcourse guidance update and then finally, a terminal guidance really becomes a key requirement that, again, as these systems get developed and as Hamilton laid out in very positive details for the $6.6 billion investment, again, something that seems to be, if not elusive, definitely buried somewhere that becomes difficult to track. There are some things that are happening when you look at some of the queuing sources.
So the Army actually has been, probably, the more forthright of the Services, as far as some of the developments in sensing capabilities. They just bought their first jet you know commercial jet platform in ARTEMIS with a package inside it known as HADES for those of you who nerd-out on those kind of things in the Army. I'm gonna have some, I was a former wide-body aircraft guy in my previous life. So I'm happy to talk about why wide-body aircraft in a WEZ, as Greg alluded to, may not exactly be the best option for sensing, certainly, the mid-course or terminal guidance. We can talk about that.
For the Joint, sure, so we're gonna talk about JADC2 if you want, but the challenge here is that while JADC2 of course is nominal in nature, of course the Services do, obviously, are going in their own direction, conversions, Overmatch, ABMS and things of that nature. And what's specific to the long-range strike mission set, if you will, is that as you start looking at ways to compete against a peer, like a China or a Russia, the idea that a Service is gonna be able to go its own way all the way from, you know, missile shot through mid-course through terminal guidance, I think, is definitely open for question as the battlefield just expands in scope and in density. And so the ability to have joint integration between the sensor and the weapon being employed, I think in long-range fires is just that much more critical. And unfortunately, with the way JADC2 tends to be going, and for those of you who've seen the outgoing and maybe back incoming Air Force Chief Software Officer's LinkedIn comments the last week who he was on the ground in JADC2. And for those of us who have played with JADC2 in our previous lives, again, question mark that you know during the Q and A, Paul, I'm happy to tee up and pontificate on, if you'd like.
Finally, when you start looking at the terminal phase in particular, you know we're not going up against a relatively permissive environment that we have seen the past 20 plus years, for those of us who have operated in the Middle East or had been watching that area. What instead you're gonna see is a very dense, very contested information environment. This is no secret that both Russia and China are developing systems expressly designed to shut down our information advantage that we've enjoyed over these last 20 years. And so when you start looking at a terminal guidance for a missile that was shot 1700 miles behind you, how that missile discriminates in a way that either through maybe machine learning algorithms inside the seeker head, maybe some kind of tie in to a LEO stationed overhead satellite. Again, assuming that satellite's a viable option and not jammed or worse is a question mark that I don't know has been answered. And, more importantly to that, and I think Greg kind of alluded to this in his comments and I think Hamilton would agree as well, is that are these missile systems and are the commanders that are gonna own them take the risk? Especially, I mean hypersonics, I mean Hamilton can quote the numbers better than I can, but the per cost missile I think is upwards of dozens of millions.
And so are they gonna be authorized to take the risk to employ those weapons and accept some of the uncertainty that might be in place if in the terminal phase of engagement these missiles are effectively autonomous and acting on their own. Because that's the only way they can accomplish their mission since COMMs are likely gonna be jammed back to what would other be human control in the loop? There have been a couple, there've been a couple demos in the last couple of years that have been kind of interesting. Some of them more virtual slash on paper, if you will, but definitely pointing in the right direction and to be fair, definitely in a Joint flavor.
So the one that stands out is Valiant Shield, INDOPACOM's annual exercise won last year. Basically, it took a virtual Aegis. So a surface-based, I'm sorry, a maritime surface-based radar took data from a virtual client of an Aegis radar, plugged it into the Pacific Air Forces Operation Center in Hawaii, then pushed targeting data forward to an Army HIMARS counter-ship battery in Guam to make sure that that conductivity was available and to success.
So awesome. Again, questions of how do you then scale that up and how do you do that in a contested environment versus an unfettered information environment? So something we can talk about. And finally, there've been some tech demos of very recent nature, like within the last six months that have also been interesting. One was the Navy shot. As Paul alluded the Navy's trying to make their Standard Missile SM-6 more viable for long-range fires and they shot it off the back of a unmanned surface vehicle known as Ranger.
So pretty cool and, definitely, something that people like Greg and Hamilton and I have kind of looked at in our current and previous lives about how do you employ systems inside the WEZ and take greater risk as a commander knowing that that's what's gonna need to happen to prosecute the war. And then finally, just in the last couple months, Air Force had a JASSM on a pallet in the back of a EC-130J. Rolled that bad boy out, sent some targeting data updates to it in flight and then, basically, rerouted the missile as a demo.
Proving that, again, there's some midcourse for that particular system. But again, some early points in the right direction, but as a command and control guy and watcher, still a lot of question marks to be asked. So I look forward to the discussion. Paul, I'll hand it back to you to start the Q and A. - Great, thanks, Mark.
I appreciate it. The first question I have for the group, and I think I'm gonna turn this over to Hamilton first, and then everyone else can chime in, but you mentioned the difficult budget trade-offs with modernization priorities. So early this year, the Commander of Air Force Global Strike Command said that that the Army's investment in long-range fires was quote, "Was stupid." Hard to be more blunt than that. But there's a lot behind that comment.
You know there's a very limited pool of resources for the Defense Department. I guess the question is where do you stand on you know the opportunity costs of the Army pursuing this? Is it truly redundant? Is there room for multiple services to be chasing these same lines of effort? - So I think first and foremost, we have to take those comments as what they are, which is a traditional Service fight for resources and prestige. A lot of this comes from the lack of definition around what role these weapons will play and what we need them to play. There's not a Key West Agreement or Johnson-McConnell Agreement that divides up who gets what in all of this.
As a result, the Services are gonna default for not planning for these as Joint Operations, but presenting them as plans that they can win the war themselves, because that's their default operation. Now on the actual substance of the question, no. Right now we've got three different lines of effort across two different major approaches. Each one looking for its own silver bullet. And the Army here, it's the most notable because as we wrap up FYI '21 right now, they're spending $832 million on hypersonic development.
That isn't just 6% of all of Army R&D. That's 2.2% of the entire Army investment account. And that takes away from not just their other long-range fires priorities, but all of Army modernization and they have a third of the amount of money to do that with. And when you start looking at this at scale, the Army spent 1.5 billion on long-range hypersonics, a weapon.
The Air Force is spending 1.1 on ARRW alone in unclassified budgets. The Navy 2.65 billion since 2019, including 1.37 this year.
That's the part that's getting lost in this is how much the Navy is making this a priority. Because it slides so well into their doctrine because where it's really just swapping out SSGNs for Virginia-classes. But even for them, that's going to be a lot of trade-offs. The entire U.S. Navy weapons budget right now for procurement is $4 billion. And they're currently planning for the industrial base to build 24 of these a year.
And if these cost 40 to 50 million, which are what we're seeing out of the test shots in the budget, that's 25% of the budget, if you don't carry over the R&D money. And a quarter of the budget's already dedicated to Trident. And that money coming over from R&D isn't guaranteed, because the whole Navy investment budget is getting eaten alive by nuclear fleet recapitalization. Cost overruns on Columbia, Ford and Nimitz were so bad this year that that was the real impetus around all these budget games we saw with the DDG-51. If you go in and add up 650 for Columbia, 308 for Ford, 482 for Nimitz, that's the marginal cost of that second DDG-51 we saw that has gotten so much play in Congress.
Air Force, it's the same story. Yes, the missile's gonna be cheaper. It may be five million if you believe what they say. But their missiles budget is smaller.
They've only got 2.5 billion and they have GBSD and B-21 to think about. And then there's the Army where we don't quite really know is this a core level commander strike weapon? Is this a deterrence asset where they're sitting on it and it's basically Pershing III? Because if you go and build out a battery of these, of six of them with two launchers, that's the equivalent of buying 360 PrSM missiles in a given year. And that gives a PrSM for every single HIMARS in the fleet right now.
That is a lot of fires that we are trading off against if we pursue this at scale. And then this is one that I wish our colleague, Ashley, had been able to make it where we talk about density and where we can put these of where can we saturate these to get enough fires potential where it's a day one target, but there's a high payoff for us to have that in that area? I can come up with some kind of crazy scenarios for that, but otherwise we're spending a lot of money for single-use shots on day one. And I had a whole numbers speil prepared, so I'm happy to turn over to Greg and Mark. - Greg or Mark, either of you wanna chime in on that, the redundancy of the Army effort, true or false? - Yeah, I mean, look, I'm a big advocate of the U. S. military
moving more on a direction towards embracing this missile era and becoming more of a missile force. I like the moves the Army is making. I understand the Air Force's parochial interests and their desire to kind of maintain a hold over long-range strike. But look at it from the adversary's perspective and how a land-based strike could complicate very much the PLA targeting. And we also have to think of a European theater.
I mean the Army is the lead in a Yukon scenario and long-range strike is gonna be very applicable there. Ground-based fires, obviously. So, look, this is such a familiar argument and we just see it over and over again. And especially, anytime there's any hint of a roles of missions debate or anytime we see, you know, budgets flatten, or tend towards that kind of a downside.
And I just think, look, that we've gone all in on a platform-centric means of delivering long-range fires that assumes that those platforms will be able to get within launch range of their munitions. I'm not sure we can make those assumptions going forward. Indefinitely, certainly not. So the more that we can perhaps disperse you know our long-range fires assets, the more we can put them in dispersed locations and you know inside the WEZ, the better. So look, I'm wholeheartedly behind what the Army is doing currently. - Thanks, Paul. - Great.
- Yeah, Paul. - Great, go ahead, Mark. - [Mark] I'll simply jump in and say I'm gonna be the cold water on both of my colleagues here and say this is all fantastic. But you know as a former wanna be state department hobbyist, where are you gonna put, especially the ground-based systems? Which again our colleague, Ashley, I know that was something that she had highlighted among some internal conversations. You can't hand-wave that away. Despite, I would argue, probably some in the Department Defense who kinda say, well, you know Palawan of course tends to be the obvious unclassified example and some other places.
All awesome, but I would even argue the Tokyos and Canberras of the world are gonna have a lot of hard questions about these systems running around in their territory, as much as maybe folks on the edges. And so if you are serious about putting army long-range systems, which I agree with Greg at a tactical operational level, absolutely. The more you can put these in there and really tuck, them and run them around, fantastic. But that doesn't happen in a year or six months of diplomatic efforts.
That takes years of diplomatic, hard diplomatic work, with a lot of caveats in place likely from some of these powers. So DOD wants to kinda just say, well, that's somebody else's problem. But the reality is that will become an operational constraint if they do not work hand in hand with the State Department.
- Yeah, let me, I'd just add, Paul. You know there's been quite a bit of discussion about how do we even put small packages of say F-35s forward in various areas in the Western Pacific. Yet you know that discussion continues. Yet, everybody says, well, you know it's much harder to put in a land-based missile system. I don't see how that squares. You know the logistical challenges of putting in a missile battery versus supporting constant tactical air strikes from distributed basing, you know it's just such a order of magnitude more challenging.
- Yeah, I wanna hit on one of the points you made, Greg, in follow up about, so a lot of times when we talk long-range strike, it's the A2/AD fight in the Pacific, right? At the extreme ranges of, extreme envelope ranges both for the basing, but also for sort of the operational aspect of this. How does this long-range fire discussion play in a Korea scenario, in a European scenario, where the ranges are much more constrained, than say the Western Pacific? - I mean it, so in a European scenario, I think you know obviously you're not talking standoff. But like you need some way of countering what Russia brings to the table in terms of artillery and surface-to-surface missile fire. Because they can saturate the battlefield with their organic fires and they could move any defender out of the area just by continuing to march those fires along, right. So you have to provide the Joint Force, the ground forces, some kind of means of countering.
Some kind of means of taking away those surface ballistic missile batteries, the Russian very long-range artillery systems. And you know we currently don't have that. So, you know that's absolutely essential to be able to hit where they're massing.
I mean that was, as we know, that was such a big part of AirLand Battle back in the 1980s. You know be able to hit the forces as they're assembling before they can generate momentum and steam roll over your thinly arrayed defenses along the battle zone. So again I think it's, you know, it's extremely applicable in both scenarios. - Thanks for that, Greg. So what I wanna do is go to audience questions and I appreciate the moderator helping me out here with sending me these questions. I'm gonna, this is kind of a lengthy one.
I'm just gonna read it. In this discussion, it seems as if long-range strike is defined exclusively as the use of Standoff Weapons. It seems to define long-range penetrating aircraft as something other than long-range strike. Why is that? Shouldn't both Standoff Weapons and long-range penetrating aircraft be part of a conversation on long-range strike? Who wants to take that one? - I mean, so I would just say just to kick it off.
I mean, yeah absolutely, it should entail both. Again, you know you're dealing with limited numbers of penetrating aircraft. So, look, in an area like the Western Pacific, you were talking basically bombers.
Because the big challenge with you know 5th-gen fighters in the WEZ is not necessarily targeting the fighter, even the bases of the fighters themselves, it's the tanker support they require to perform strikes to get towards the target itself. So you know where do those big tankers, where are they based out of? So now you're talking about launching bombers from Australia, perhaps, or continental United States. So it's, again, I'm all for going as fast as we can towards it becoming more of a missile force. - I would echo what Greg said and say that I would love, actually, I would love a strong penetrating bomber option. Because as, again, from the command control perspective, if I've got a human a little bit closer in the loop, closer to the target area and, yeah, obvious, right.
If a hypersonic missile or whatever is coming out of the belly of that aircraft can get there that much faster, fantastic. That would be awesome. But like Greg, I'm a little skeptical of how it gets from A to B. And, again, to be completely blunt, like especially if we're talking penetrating bomber and we're talking something, of course, ala B-21, those are not cheap. And so, you know in a fight of the scale that we think might happen in the Asia-Pacific, are you gonna really dedicate what's gonna probably wind up being a pretty limited number of B-21s to go in against anything other than the most high-value of high-value targets. I think that becomes the challenge.
And again, especially if they're gonna take the risk to get in there and if you believe that they will get in there undetected. - All right. - Yeah, and I think I'd go off Mark's point here of I think, one, we have to think about these as just a whole systems of delivering fires, of it's a delivery platform.
But I think going off of Mark's point on detection, there's a question of at how close can you get before you have true, before you have to turn around? When is that last point of launch? Because I think we forget at a certain stage, yes, our adversaries have put a lot more money into making advanced investments to counter stealth, but also they rely on a lot greater density of their air defense networks than we traditionally have fought off. And so at a certain point, you have to assume that these will get detected and that you aren't going to be able for just be setting a few miles off. You're going to have to be launching from extremer ranges, but whatever degree you're able to get closer does provide a major return on investment. And I think that's one of the big reasons why B-21 is a priority because you can be fighting from inside the enemy's strategic depth versus from your own. - Thanks, Hamilton.
Another question, hitting on the detection point. So to Mark's comments on where to put long-range fires, can you address the ability of launchers to quote, hide in plain sight in countries like Indonesia and Philippines and in an era of smartphone slash connectivity, Mark. - I'm smiling because the open-source intelligence that just continues to grow in stature and usefulness to the intelligence community, to defense planners, that kind of stuff, it just continues to grow.
You know as a total side note, there was a story about where the Brits are starting to have some struggles with recruiting for submarines, 'cause the next generation's like, well, what do you mean I can't take my smartphone on a submarine? Well, you can take it but you know, shockingly, there's no signal underneath the water there. So, you know it's absolutely a great, great question and if you do believe and rightfully so we would do the same thing if the roles were reversed, if you believe of course, that there's Chinese infiltration and penetration for human intelligence and, of course, open-source intelligence and data fusion, it's a great question. With that being said, though, sometimes it's not about where the unit is or where the unit was.
It's where the unit's going, right. So depending on your tactics and techniques, and to be in full disclosure I was a former Navy Bubba. So I will defer to anyone on the line who is of an Army artillery style to totally correct what I'm about to say.
I assume with tactics and techniques, you know maybe detection is somewhat inevitable. Certainly I think at the moment of fire, it's gonna be pretty obvious where that initial shot is coming from. But all the more reason why they're shoot-and-scoot techniques and procedures in the Army and the Marine Corps being another one. So the key is to, you know not that you always avoid detection, but just avoid it long enough to pack your stuff up and move even, you know, 10 miles down the road. - Thanks, Mark.
Let's go to another question real quick. What should we do or how should we adapt if we can't gain parody with some of these Chinese or Russian systems, particularly in hypersonics? Greg or Hamilton? - Yeah, look, I don't think we should look at it in terms of a hypersonics arms race and you either win or lose and it's all-in on this one weapons system you know. As we know, there's lots of links in a kill chain that have to be connected to realize an actual strike on target. Our kill chains are vulnerable.
Our adversary kill chains are also vulnerable. So it's not that we don't have any means of addressing the hypersonic threat. And it's, look, it's a weapon system that we need to learn to fight through. It will require changes in our basing, the way we operate on the surface of the ocean, the logistics throughputs in theater.
It goes back to, I tell people it goes back to, I look at it kind of the Cold War era where we knew that we were gonna operate, that NATO was gonna operate under sustained missile strikes from Soviet territory. But they planned for that, they accounted for it and they adjusted their concepts of operation accordingly. It wasn't that they threw up their hands and said, wow, this is a weapon that we can't, there's nothing we can do about it. They developed means to work around it. They developed alternative concepts of operation and that's exactly what we need to do in this case. - Hamilton you're on mute.
- The classic 2021, but I would go off of what Greg said in two things. One, yes, we've been here before and we've also seen how people have reacted to us so we can change our doctrine from those lessons learned. We forget Russian artillery during the Cold War outranged us. If you go read the After Action Reports from the Gulf War, we had to adopt scoot-and-shoot inside enemy fire envelopes because they outranged us by 20, 30%. And so these are tactics that are out there that we can address and we've seen people use against us in many of these locations.
I think the other one is we need to make sure that we keep up the tempo and strength of S&T investment so that we aren't caught unaware in the next iteration. So that not just we can possibly reverse that curve or counter the current wave, but also be ready for whatever the next thing is. The bomber gap led to the missile gap, which led to tank gaps. These things move in cycles and we need to make sure that we're still investing, even though it's not the prettiest thing, in a lot of different S&T technologies like directed energy or non-hypersonic advanced strike weapons or even on that, the material science that makes so much of this work, that underline all of these investments that often take decades to actually play out. - Yeah and, again, going back to, like Hamilton said, the concepts. You know if we would get off the X, as we used to say you know.
A hypersonic weapon, it's most effective against a static target. So stay mobile. You know it's an old adage from World War II, Navy Pacific days. You know if you're not mobile, you're useless. So, we have to stay mobile and agile.
Although, I hate the word agile. - Thanks, Greg. So I think we have time for maybe one or two more questions. The next question, in the Cold War these systems would've likely been nuclear systems or have a nuclear variant.
What are the planned payloads for U.S. and foreign hypersonic systems? - Well, we certainly hope not nuclear. - Hamilton, you talked earlier about you know some of these are gonna be kinetic, some of these are gonna be, you know. - Yeah. I can say that's one where I think there's a lot of gray area here and it's hard to give a good answer.
Because one, we're still defining these systems. But also they're really some very complicated arms control questions when you get into this where it might actually be better in some cases to choose to go non-nuclear on these because of the threat of escalation. I mentioned this in some of my early comments, but the one that comes to mind is the sheer amount of panic that anybody has if a submarine launched missile comes out of the water 50 miles from your coast. Not to play out "Hunt for Red October" scenarios, but those are the very much the nightmare scenarios of the Cold War. That was what the Cuban Missile Crisis was about. And I think everybody starts acting very differently around these systems if they start becoming day zero nuclear-strike weapons and they end up playing, the political ramifications are probably not something that can be wrestled with in a panel that has about four or five minutes left.
- Yeah, and then- - Yeah, Paul, I'll jump in as a sensor guy and say the other challenge with hypersonics is if you do believe that there's gonna be dual use, some of how we calculate and do calculations on nuclear planning, nuclear warning is based on ballistic missile trajectories and how you're gonna account for a system that may start ballistic, but not end ballistic. And what your threshold for risk is as a senior decision maker is something that I think, definitely worth the conversation for behind doors with sound pucks and stuff. But it's gonna need to happen because the presentation to senior leaders and the timeline, right, the compressed timeline is gonna be really challenging if if, it is a nuclear war head, which we'll see. - Going off Mark's point on that on the sensor side, like I suddenly just recalled when 1984 a false reading you came within one man's decision-making of do you start the nuclear launch process because of a false sensor reading and what happens when we're talking a five to 10 minute window? Total. - Yeah,
a point I tried to make into my opening comments. You know our target list is very different for a hypersonic type weapon, than say a Chinese target list. And so you know, again, we need to answer the question of how many homeland strikes will a nuclear armed adversary tolerate before they begin to signal or demonstrate escalation? So and we need to have that same debate. How many are we willing to accept before we start signaling, look, the next one that comes we're gonna respond with a different kind of weapon altogether. - Great. Well, I know we could go on for much longer and you know, ideally, this would be over a drink.
But I wanna be cognizant of everybody's time and I appreciate everyone attending. I appreciate the MITRE team, the Janes team for a robust discussion. I appreciate the moderators back behind the scenes helping us put this together. We have about two minutes left. So as we close out any rapid-fire, last minute closing comments from the panel? Mark, Greg or Hamilton.
- Yeah, let me just add, I see us venturing down this hypersonics path. And like I said at the outset, I think there is certainly utility, specifically, going after fleeting targets. However, you know we've all heard senior leaders in the Department talking about, oh, we're gonna build space-based defense layer that counter hypersonics.
I mean now you're talking just, ridiculous fantasy amounts of resources. So I just worry about that, you know where this could potentially lead the Department in terms of spending. - I'll piggyback off that and say the cost per effect, $40 million as Hamilton alluded to per missile, I'm really wrapping my head around. That's a heck of a lot of cash for one thing to do one thing and never to come back and do that same thing again. And so how we are squaring that becomes a challenge and not lose the war because we run out of money or because we don't have enough of these things. - Yep, I had a couple of things that if this panel had gone another hour, I would've loved to talk about.
I'm pretty sure I wanted to pick Mark's brain about just how when we start talking about these sensors that we have to integrate, the sheer amount of onboard processing that we're going to need at all levels of that C2 chain, in order to just be able to communicate within these denied environments. There's a course and discussion, also, around those space-based sensor layers. And the one I really feel sad I didn't get to was, as we got stuck on hypersonics, when we talk about on the ground changing technologies, I think we still somewhat underrate the Army's Extended Range Cannon Artillery program and the forthcoming Army Fires infrastructure that we're gonna see increase the rocket force by itself by 50% over the next five years. Because we've been operating in an environment where the Russian at a brigade level outgun us three to one and are much more emphasis on rapid fire. Where when we start moving into having 70 kilometer ranges on these, instead of the Russians being able to do 30 to 40, that is a severe level of overmatch that will change how we end up not only just conducting our maneuver by fire, or fire and maneuver, but altering how the Russians think about their own maneuver by fire approach.
- Great. Well, thanks everybody. I know we're at time. I appreciate discussion. I appreciate the questions. I apologize that we didn't get to all of them, but as Hamilton said, we coulda gone on for many more hours. But thanks, everyone, for joining us today.
Hope you have a good rest of your day. For joining us today. Hope you have a good rest of your day.