Briefing journalists during Farnborough 2016, Wes Kramer, President of Raytheon Integrated Systems, stressed the issue of collaboration, cooperation and partnership in European missile defence. Not only, did he say, is “missile defence a team sport,” but he also put forward the viewpoint that only an integrated range of solutions offered a real chance of countering the increasing range of threats from ‘traditional’ adversaries and non-state actors. “The bad guys only have to get lucky once; those who defend us need to be perfect all the time,” he said.
Showing the range of Raytheon ballistic missile defence solutions covering the integrated air missile defence (IAMD), endoatmospheric and exoatmospheric flight regimes, he emphasised not only the way in which the company’s own developments – in systems such as PATRIOT, SM-3 and SM-6 – had paved the way for enhanced defensive capability, but also its collaboration with others – such as the SM-3 Block 2A co-development between the US and Japan or the DAVID’s SLING and IRON DOME developments with Israel.
Initiatives such as the PATRIOT user group, in which collaborating nations can fund experience-based development and enhancement, receiving 100% of resulting benefits while contributing only a portion of the costs, will continue to provide a cost-effective and graceful solution to the conundrum of remaining competent and capable in a rapidly changing threat environment, Kramer pointed out, while admitting, “there are lots of opportunities for greater collaboration.”
The company already espouses the concept of deep collaboration at the European level: With 500 suppliers in Europe and some 66% of its global supply chain resident in the continent, it remains committed to providing the best possible European missile defence across the broadest possible number of allied nations, while ensuring capability development and technology insertion provide powerful drivers for continued development. “All politics are local and we are very focused on providing customisable and complementary solutions for nations with widely differing capabilities, aspirations and requirements,” said Kramer.
The company does not rest easily on its laurels, either. With considerable investment of time, effort and intellectual capital (as well as cash) in pushing continued development of the SM-3 Block 2A, which will contribute significantly to European missile defence from 2018 through its extended range and greatly improved performance, Raytheon is also keeping its eyes firmly fixed on the next generation of technologies for further improvements. “The next frontier has to be directed energy weapons. They are varied in nature and will have to be approached in a ‘crawl, walk, run’ manner in order to ensure they mature in the right way. But we are an engineering company: I can assure you we are paying very close attention to these methods of improving the service we offer our global customers.”
Part of the rationale that sustains the continual search for superior effect is, unsurprisingly, cost-based. “We fully recognise the argument of the cost exchange ratio. The use of relatively high cost interceptors to defeat threats that adversaries can develop for pennies on the dollar is, frankly, unsustainable. While an integrated capability will always be required in order to defeat the full threat spectrum, there will have to be solutions developed that allow for cost-effective as well as effects-oriented engagement results,” Kramer observed.