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Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) protect against full spectrum of threats

Militaries around the world are increasingly facing a formidable strategic and threat environment in terms of complexity, lethality, range, sophistication, and number of threats. These range from Fifth-generation stealth fighters, cruise and ballistic missile and unmanned air vehicle technology that are becoming widely proliferated to become more accessible to emerging nations.


Sukhoi Pak FA is being developed by Sukhoi for the Russian Air force. China has become the second nation to have two stealth fighter designs, J-20 and J-31.  Stealth fighters drastically reduce the range at which air defence forces can engage a threat, the number and type of defensive systems, or tiers with shot opportunities.


There are 353 Countries with Some Type of Tactical Ballistic Missiles having payload of 190 to 1000 Kg with Warheads ranging from Conventional, WMD and Smart Sub munitions. CMs and unmanned aircraft also present elusive targets and are difficult to detect, identify, and engage. More than 70 countries have some kind of cruise missiles and about 60 countries import them. They have range of 30 to 1500 Km and armed with Conventional, WMD and Anti-Armor Submunitions. Russia has demonstrated its long-range cruise missile capabilities in Syria, where it was able to hit targets at a distance 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) from ships located in the Caspian Sea.


There are 150 operational programs of UAVs in 40 countries today. They perform missions ranging from RSTA, Decoy/Drone, and Electronic Warfare to Lethal Attack missions and have Ranges up to 150 Kms. There is also a growing threat of sophisticated cyber and electronic warfare systems that can hack or jam Air and Missile defense Networks.


The Russia-Ukraine conflict has already shown numerous examples of attacks featuring large numbers of missiles and UAS. So far, Russia has expended over 2,100 total missiles (as of May 25, 2022), consisting of ballistic missiles‒mostly Short Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBMs), cruise missiles, and a few hypersonic and air-launched ballistic missiles. Dr. John Plumb (Assistant Secretary for Defense (Space) stated, “..the use of missiles is becoming increasingly commonplace in conflicts worldwide.” In addition, there is now real reason to be concerned about the consistent use of large and complex salvos, comprised of both missiles with different profiles and complementary capabilities (e.g. cyber and UAS) to strike targets simultaneously or near-simultaneously.


United States’ Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense: Vision 2020

By 2030, the threats facing the United States around the world will have twice, if not three times, the lethality and range of today’s threats, said Maj Gen VeraLinn “Dash” Jamieson, USAF and Lt Col Maurizio “Mo” Calabrese, USAF. Anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) weaponry capabilities could include modern weapons such as hypersonic cruise missiles, fifth-generation fighters, digital adaptive electronic warfare waveforms, air-to-air missiles with 150 nmi ranges, perhaps long-range (300 nmi plus) and ultra-long-range (500 nmi) surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).


“United States’ Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense: Vision 2020” document outlines the Chairman’s guidance to the joint force and, by extension, to all the stakeholders that contribute to the air and missile defense of the U.S. homeland and its regional forces, partners, and allies.


The vision document warns, “The future IAMD environment will be characterized by a full spectrum of air and missile threats—ballistic missiles, air-breathing threats (cruise missiles, aircraft, UAS [unmanned aerial systems]), long-range rockets, artillery, and mortars—all utilizing a range of advanced capabilities—stealth, electronic attack, maneuvering reentry vehicles, decoys, and advanced terminal seekers with precision targeting.”


Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense requirements

Militaries around the world are developing Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense solutions to protect against full spectrum of threats. An IADS is the “structure, equipment, personnel, procedures, and weapons used to counter the enemy’s airborne penetration of one’s own claimed territory,” according to one Air Force intelligence expert. Rather than a single weapon or person, it is an amalgamation of elements, organized to minimize threats in the air domain. Thus, an effective IADS performs three functions—air surveillance, battle management, and weapons control. Of these, air surveillance alone includes five specific sub-functions: detect, initiate, identify, correlate, and maintain.


It is a type of System of Systems (SoS), which  can be described as a collection of constituent systems which are operationally independent i.e., each system is independent and it achieves its purposes by itself. Managed independently and distributed geographically, these systems work collectively to perform unique function(s) which cannot be carried out by any individual constituent system. They have emergent behavior, i.e., a system of systems has capabilities and properties that do not reside in the component systems, and evolutionary development, i.e., a system of systems evolves with time and experience.


Russia, for example, stipulates that air defense units are to “protect troops and facilities from a different means of air attack (strike aviation, cruise missiles, UAVs) in a combined-arms combat environment and on the march,” according to Russian ground force doctrine. In support of this responsibility, Russian air defense units carry out: air defense combat, detection of enemy aircraft and providing warning for ground units, destruction of the means of an enemy air attack, and theater missile defense support.


Air surveillance is often described as the “eyes” of an air defense system. A radar will “detect” an aircraft entering an IADS’s area of coverage, while the “initiate” function transforms radar returns into “tracks.” The “identify” function examines the track and categorizes it as friend, foe, or unknown.


These three phases occur relatively independently, which necessitates a “correlate” function. For example, if a system sees three tracks in close proximity, a sensor operator has the option to consider the tracks a single entity or three different aircraft. Correlation is important as it can have a significant impact on weapon resourcing. Finally, the “maintain” function allows for specific tracks to be continuously monitored. In modern systems, much of this can be automated, resulting in less “man in the loop” processing and more “man on the loop” paradigms. This reduces the ability to defeat the human factor in a modern IADS, and there is more importance given to the ability to generate multiple effects on air surveillance nodes in order to degrade the awareness of an IADS.


After surveillance, the battle management aspect of an IADS includes four functions: Threat evaluation, engagement decision, weapon selection, and engagement authority. Battle management marks the transition from identifying a threat to acting against it. Battle management makes the determination that a given radar track is in fact a threat and then selects the weapon to counter that threat. The engagement authority is the final step in battle management that confirms the threat, engagement, and weapon selection decisions.


These decisions transition into weapons control, where a particular weapon system performs the weapons pairing, acquiring, tracking, guiding, killing, and assessing functions. Within weapons control, even more refined degrees of air surveillance and battle management tasks are occurring too. The difference is these are strictly related to the specific weapon that is engaging a threat.


There is some evidence that the Russians have launched over 1,000 cruise missiles based on reports that approximately 10% are being shot down (according to Ukrainian officials) with 120 cruise missiles shot down by day 100.


Ultimately, shooting down individual missiles (the ”arrows”) one at a time is not an effective long-term strategy for IAMD against Russia. Successfully destroying launch sites, launchers, and associated equipment (e.g., radars, BMC2) will be far more impactful, better-defending civilians, military personnel, and critical assets. The key lesson for the U.S. and its allies, both in Europe and around the world, is that simply having the proper IAMD capability is insufficient. IAMD systems must be acquired in sufficient quantity, be well postured before a conflict begins, and be protected against attack. Sound posturing requires distribution of the assets, dispersal based on indications and warnings with no single points of failure (redundant) and protected.


Protection of IAMD assets (e.g., S-300s, PAC-3s, THAADs) should include passive defenses measures, such as hardened shelters and Camouflage, Concealment and Deception (CCD); active defenses, including counter-UAS and cruise missile defense; left of launch counter-offensive capabilities; and retaliatory strike capabilities against enemy launchers. According to Dr. Uzi Rabin, the father of Israel’s missile defense programs, the Ukrainian forces early on, “lost 22 S-300 launchers and 17 other short-range Ground-Based Air Defense (GBAD) batteries” (primary source). Jane’s open-source Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) showed how Ukrainian IAMD assets were poorly defended— both passively and actively. This is verified by Dr. Rabin’s reporting, which stated, “With no effective protection, Ukraine’s air bases, logistic centers and ammunition depots are largely exposed to Russian deep-striking precision cruise missiles” .


NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence

NATO IAMD is the defensive component of the Alliance’s Joint Air Power, which aims to ensure the stability and security of NATO’s airspace by coordinating, controlling and exploiting the air domain. It incorporates all measures that contribute to deterring any air and missile threat, or to nullifying or reducing the effectiveness of hostile air action.

NATO IAMD is conducted using a 360-degree approach across NATO territory, and is prepared to address the full spectrum of threats, from tactical to strategic, emanating from any direction – through the air, overland or from the sea.

NATO IAMD provides a highly responsive, robust, time-critical and persistent capability in order to achieve a desired level of control of the air, wherein the Alliance is able to conduct the full range of its missions in peacetime, crisis and conflict.

In recent years, NATO has further enhanced its IAMD activities to ensure that they remain flexible and adaptive, taking into account increasingly diverse and challenging air and missile threats facing the Alliance, ranging from simple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to sophisticated hypersonic missiles. IAMD is particularly essential in the current strategic environment, which is characterised by the rapid development of missile arsenals across the globe, including by potential adversaries.

NATO IAMD is implemented through the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS), a network of interconnected national and NATO systems comprised of sensors, command and control assets, and weapons systems. NATINAMDS comes under the authority of NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe.


Air Force, Army air defenders demonstrate enhanced air, missile defense system

Air Forces Northern teamed up with the 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command from Anderson, South Carolina, and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center from Huntsville, Alabama, to conduct a Deployable Integrated Air Defense System, or D-IADS, Technology Demonstration featuring enhanced capabilities, Sept. 2022 at Tyndall Air Force Base.

“The D-IADS tech demo was an opportunity to get after multiple technical goals relevant to U.S. Continental NORAD Region’s homeland defense mission, to include combat identification, tactics development, and deployment of the complete D-IADS package,” said Maj. Zachary Darnell, First Air Force Strategic Programs Division chief. “Additionally, it provided a great opportunity to strengthen our partnership with Army air and missile defense partners.”

The demonstration was conducted to validate the system’s deployment procedures and to validate an advanced electronic identification capability, known as Joint Multi-platform Advanced Combat, or JMAC, identification into NORAD’s D-IADS. JMAC is designed to increase battlespace awareness by enhancing threat identification and therefore providing leaders more decision time.



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