The Next Phase of Missile Defense: C2 and Multi-Domain Sensor and Strike Capabilities


By Robbin Laird

Missile defense capabilities have grown over the years, and have become important elements of the joint force.

But they have operated largely as organic assets supporting either tactical or strategic operations, but not as an element of C2 integrated force.

As the US forces shift from a primary focus on counter-insurgency to force-on-force peer adversary conflict, a significant effort by US and allied forces is being placed on reshaping their forces to fight effectively in the integrated battlespace.

At the heart of such capabilities is an ability to develop, deploy and execute C2 in a multi-domain battlespace.

Active defense is becoming a key requirement for combat success for a maneuver force and ability to insert forces into combat areas an adversary may seek to deny or defend.

But for active defense to be effective it needs to be integrated with offensive forces into an offensive-defense enterprise directed by effective C2.

How best to accelerate progress in this effort?

What changes need to be made on the side of the development of missile defense systems?

What changes need to be made to the evolution of C2 systems?

What changes to how offensive forces can leverage the defense to expand the effectiveness of the overall combat force?

This is a work in progress, one that is central to the future and the evolving capabilities of US and allied forces.

How best to proceed and to maximize combat success?

But like the famous line in Moliere’s play, where the main character is characterized as speaking prose but not knowing it, there is a case study staring us in the face of how to shape an effective way ahead.

That case is the C-RAM capability and approach.

The main thrust of the literature that describes C-RAM focuses on its coming to Iraq and then Afghanistan to provided sensors and shooters to protect forward operating bases.

And what tends to be highlighted are the radars or the shooters.

But this really misses the point.

It is the C2 system which enables the sensor and shooters to provide an integrated system of systems, one in which the adversary shooting the incoming strike asset can be targeted, the incoming strike asset destroyed, and the troops on the ground warned.

During our discussion with the BG McIntire at Fort Sill in April 2018, he highlighted a success story the Army had in the Middle East in developing and deploying the Counter-Rocket Artillery Mortar (C-RAM) system within 11 months from the Warfighters call for a solution.

According to BG McIntire, they were effectively working integration of defense fires with offense fires within the Army just prior to a ramp off of the control of operations and response efforts from the US Military to the host nation Iraqi government.

“We already started working offensive and defensive fires with the C-RAM system. We linked C-RAM into a network of sensors by leveraging the field artillery sensors and the air defense radars and we were able to determine where the enemy rounds were coming from, the point of origin (POO).

“Then, we were able to effectively provide localized warning for our troops in the vicinity of the Point of Impact (POI), while intercepting the incoming round when it was appropriate to protect the defended asset.

“Simultaneously, we responded with an appropriate level of reaction force: counter-battery fire, Army attack aviation or local ground forces towards the launch point for further investigation or defeat.

“Now, we need to take these Fires concepts already demonstrated at the Tactical level and experiment with them at the Operational and Strategic levels.”

What the US Army has done working with Northrup Grumman is to build a C2 system which is scalable and can build out from what has been done in C-RAM to incorporate what the Army as well as the Marines are building in the ground base short range active defense environment.

And they are building out integration capabilities as well to the coming of the ICBS C2 system, which will provide a system of systems solution for medium-range missile defense systems as well.

To be blunt: C-RAM is a key success and provides a harbinger of things to come and certainly to be highlighted in shaping a way ahead in the post-stove pipe weapon systems world.

And it is about C2, which is really at the heart of shaping forces crucial to prevailing in the strategic shift.

The C2 at the heart of C-RAM is FAAD C2 or Forward Air Defense Command and Control.

According to Northrop Grumman:

As the technology in air- based aircraft and weaponry advances, the need to protect against low-altitude air threats becomes more urgent. The Forward Area Air Defense (FAAD) Command and Control (C2) system was developed by Northrop Grumman to provide command and control (C2) for the U.S. Army Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD) Systems.

FAAD C2 receives air track data from multiple local sensors as well as multiple external track and C2 sources. All track data is correlated, and a single integrated air picture (SIAP) is distributed to all SHORAD weapons, along with engagement orders and weapon control status to provide complete situational awareness (SA). FAAD C2 also provides both its local air picture and the status of SHORAD weapons to higher echelon air defense and maneuver elements.

Originally fielded in 1993, FAAD C2 continues to be actively employed by the U.S. Army as well as several foreign nations. Northrop Grumman’s sensor/ weapon independent architecture, coupled by our years of experience developing FAAD C2, facilitates the integration of new local sensors, weapons and external track/C2 sources, per the needs of the customer.

Not only does FAAD C2 currently interface with many sensors, weapons and external track/C2 sources, it can also be expanded to interface with other new or legacy systems. Depending on customer requirements, Northrop Grumman can either support the system developer in implementing one of FAAD C2’s standard interfaces or can implement the other system’s legacy interface.

FAAD C2 may be incorporated into a wide variety of platforms from a mobile command center such as the Air Defense Air Management (ADAM) Cell to a transit case for maximum versatility.

The FAAD C2 scalable network architecture enables the air defense force protection unit to provide support from a standalone battery to an entire battalion, while still providing connectivity to higher echelons


The Army was using a common weapons interface to tie new weapons into the C2 system. In other words, the C2 system is the epicenter for the integration process. “

The Army is taking this C2 system and working outwards into the new short range air defense system which is a priority for the Army and which will be deployed on top of a Stryker vehicle. The Marines are working closely with the Army on this effort, and will deploy a common C2 system on a JLTV in what is called the L-MADIS system.

When I was at MAWTS-1 I had a chance to get updated from the USMC side on the approach, which Gesellschap highlighted. The USMC system is called L-MADIS or the Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System, which is designed specifically for counter UAS missions. It is a two vehicle system which works the ISR data, and C2 links and delivers a counter strike capability against incoming UAS systems.

The L-MADIS system is very expeditionary, and can be carried by MV-22s or C-130s.

The Army’s version is being built off of a Stryker vehicle, and the Marines off of a JLTV vehicle.  The same instinct is in play – use a core vehicle in use for the ground forces, shape a flexible management system on the vehicle and have modular upgradeable systems providing what BG McIntire at Fort Sill referred to as the “toys on top of the vehicle.”

The same software is running for both the Army and Marine Corps air defense systems.

This means that L-MADIS and SHORAD should be interoperable on day one.

In other words, what the Army-Northrop team has built is a C2 template which can evolve over time to end new sensors and strike capabilities to the active defense system, both fixed and mobile.

The Army-Northrop team works as an enterprise. The government has full rights for the use of the Northrop software. As the prime contractor, Northrop provides the software and documentation, namely, the technical and training manuals.  The government does independent software testing and requirements determination.  And the government tests out the software for its full material release as a new block of software.

What this enterprise approach allows is for Northup working with the Army to incorporate additional systems into the software build.

In short, the FAAD C2 software and its evolution is at the center of a C2 multi-domain dynamic which will help shape the next phase of missile defense development, one in which active defense is part of being able to support a distributed force operating in a force-on-force fight.

It is a case study suggestive of the future; not simply an historical footnote to operations in Iraq in the mid first decade of the 20thCentury.