The Department of Defense (DoD) has invested billions of dollars over the last 30 years to defend against ballistic missile attacks on the United States and its bases and forces overseas. Despite these investments, the U.S. military still lacks the ability to defeat large numbers of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, unmanned aircraft, and other emerging guided weapons threats.
Indeed, tangible progress toward fielding high capacity air and missile defenses has been, to date, barely noticeable.
This report addresses how DoD could take advantage of mature and maturing technologies to develop higher capacity and more cost-effective air and missile defenses for its overseas bases, including airbases that currently have few defenses against cruise missile and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks.
These defenses could include medium-range high energy lasers (HEL), high-power microwave (HPM) systems, guided projectiles launched by rapid-firing guns, and low-cost surface-to-air missiles. Unmanned and manned aircraft carrying extended-range air-to-air missiles and equipped with wide-area surveillance sensors, HELs, and possibly HPM systems could further extend the range and increase the threat engagement capacity of a base salvo defense complex.
This layered defense concept would help enable U.S. forces to conduct power-projection operations inside contested areas—and do so at significantly less cost than continuing to rely almost exclusively on expending multimillion-dollar ground-launched surface-to-air missiles against each threat in a salvo.
Click here for the full report (48 PDF pages) on the CSBA website.