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In June 2021, Dynetics, a company owned by Leidos, which in turn is part of Lockheed Martin, unveiled its “Enduring Shield.”
It was not known that Dynetics even took part in the competition for the US Army’s enduring indirect fires protection capability, designed to defend against a variety of airborne threats.
One competing team consists of Rafael and Raytheon, offering up the Iron Dome launcher and Tamir interceptor.
Currently, the US Army is using Iron Dome as an interim cruise missile defense capability as it works to adopt an enduring solution to counter drones and cruise missiles.
For the live-fire test, Dynetics was bringing a launcher based off the Army’s internally developed, but then canceled, Multi-Mission Launcher along with the Raytheon-produced AIM-9X Sidewinder interceptor.
Initially, the interceptor was a mystery and kept secret. But its launcher, Enduring Shield, takes know-how from the Multi-Mission Launcher’s development and improves upon it.
The system is built with a modular, open-system architecture which makes it possible to use any interceptor with the launcher.
The MML had trouble with reloading, and the AIM-9X had issues with overheating. With changes to the launcher all issues were resolved by Dynetics.
The company has relevant experience designing launchers, as mentioned it has history on the MML program, and also its current efforts to build the launcher for the Army’s ground-launched hypersonic missile. Dynetics is also building the first glide bodies for those hypersonic missiles.
Dynetics also has experience on the Indirect Fires Protection Capability program, developing a 300-kilowatt laser on a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck, to serve as a possible countermeasure for enduring solution.
The Army is expected to choose a winner to proceed in building an initial lot of prototypes in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021. The winner must deliver all prototypes to the Army in time to reach initial operational capability by the fourth quarter of fiscal 2023.
But currently, even with Dynetics’ impressive history, the US Army has limited options – one is a combined Iron Dome with an older interceptor, while Dynetics is using a refurbished system that failed once before.
Still, it appears that the company hopes to be the winner, as it attempts to meet the accelerated schedule that the US Army wants for the defensive system, as well as it has invested quite a bit of its own funds in the program, unlike Rafael and Raytheon, who simply bring ready solutions to the table.