U.S. Army Eyes New Missile for Enduring Shield

U.S. Army Eyes New Missile for Enduring Shield

AD System Brigadier General Frank Lozano stated that the service seeks a secondary missile for the upcoming Enduring Shield air defence system. Lozano told “Breaking Defense” during an interview at the Eurosatory 2024 exhibition that the U.S. Army isn’t exactly satisfied with the current AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles used on Enduring Shield. He pointed out that the service wants an alternative missile to intercept low-flying supersonic cruise missiles in addition to the highly agile but short-ranged AIM-9X. Any foreign weapon was dropped out of the tablet to fill said gap because of intellectual property rights issues, such as NASAMS with AIM-120D missiles and Iron Dome.

 The U.S. Army rather wants a fresh solution that can provide the capabilities of a surface-launched AIM-120D against missiles but also fit inside the Enduring Shield’s missile canisters which are too small for the former. Enduring Shield launchers hold 18 missiles each. Lozano gave a development up to 2029 or 2030 before the low-rate initial production (LRIP) phase.

Previously, the U.S. Army acquired a small number of Israeli Iron Dome air defence systems for evaluation, but the affair did not go beyond that. This missile will be developed for Enduring Shield and parallels Iron Dome’s Tamir missiles in terms of high capacity and, most likely, guidance. However, this upcoming missile will rather be focused on intercepting high-speed and low-altitude targets as opposed to the Tamir missile focused on rocket/artillery/mortar threats.

 Enduring Shield air defence system is based on the cancelled Multi-Mission Launcher (MML) capable of firing FIM-92 Stinger, AGM-114 Hellfire, AIM-9X Sidewinder and Tamir missiles. While MML had a high capacity, its modularity came at a cost. In addition to the costs, the launcher had overheating issues with AIM-9X missiles. Enduring Shield aims to address the cost and simplicity issues of the design to provide the Army with a more affordable system.