The U.S. Army will soon have a new air defense system designed to defeat incoming cruise missiles and attack drones, small targets that are often difficult to intercept.
The system, called Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC) Increment 2, has drawn comparisons to Israel’s Iron Dome and the NASAMS Air Defense System.
Prototypes of the system’s launcher called Enduring Shield are currently being manufactured by the Leidos Dynetics Group in Huntsville, Alabama.
Defense against cruise missiles and attack drones has been identified as a major capability gap in the Army’s layered defense strategy designed to create rings of security around soldiers and assets near the battlefront.
Leidos Program Manager Elizabeth Robertson says the need for an effective layered defense for military and civilian assets alike is evident now in Ukraine.
Scott Borchers, the company’s top engineer on the program, said the Army plans to deploy four Enduring Shield launchers per platoon to create 360-degree defended areas.
“Enduring Shield is a portable, low-cost system that can engage multiple targets at once at the platoon level,” Borchers said. “It’s simple to operate, including in GPS-denied environments, and fully integrates with the Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS), the brains of the Army’s larger network that determines which shooters to activate against various threats.”
Borchers said perhaps the most important feature of Enduring Shield is its open architecture, which will enable the Army to add additional interceptors with new capabilities in the future.
Robertson said her team recently passed a major readiness milestone, with initial flight testing planned later this year. If all goes well, her team could then manufacture hundreds of Enduring Shield launchers for the Army.