An opportunity for disciplinary action

The Navy is preparing for another test of a new cruise missile defense system that can identify and destroy threats from beyond the radar horizon, Lockheed officials said.
The system, called Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air, or NIFC-CA, uses a Standard Missile 6 and an airborne sensor to track and destroy approaching cruise missiles at much longer distances than existing technologies can.
“The NIFC-CA capability pushes out the engagement envelope that these ships have not had previously. You are pushing the engagement envelope beyond the radar horizon,” said Jim Sheridan, director of Aegis U.S. Navy programs at Lockheed Martin. “There’s an airborne sensor that’s involved. Once the missile leaves the ship you are actually firing it at something that the ship itself cannot see because the engagement takes place beyond the horizon.”

This is a most obvious application based on technologies which were experimental by 1944 (TBM-3W radar plane, Bat seeker, Wasserrfall missile), mature available by 1974 (E-2 radar plane AIM-54 seeker, RIM-67 missile), mainstream available by 1991 (AIM-120 seeker). The concept was an operational capability of the French navy by 2002 or so (E-2 & Aster 30 missile with seeker). The need for the concept was painfully obvious by 1982.
Effective naval area air defence close to a coastline is most questionable without this capability - and almost all naval actions were related to a nearby land mass.*

The navy with the (by a ridiculous factor!) biggest budget in the world is only now getting ready to make use of this obvious application.

I suppose this justifies a disciplinary action against the bureaucracy.
Delete ten flag officer slots, cut the staffs of all remaining flag officers by one officer slot (not their choice) and send two DDGs to a SINKEX without replacement. Maybe this kind of disciplinary action would teach the bureaucracy a powerful lesson about consequences of institutional failure.

I'm serious. It would likely strengthen the USN in the medium term already. Keep in mind bureaucrcies strive for size. You punish them best by cutting them. The lag between decades of failure and sudden punishment would not matter.


*: Commerce raiding is the one category with many exceptions to this rule.

P.S.: Reliable active radar seekers are expensive, of course. This made them less attractive, but autonomous terminal homing seekers with lock on after launch capability are a must-have for a large fraction of the area air defence missiles and the price is no excuse for a navy with a ridiculously lavish budget.
edit: A related Blog text is 2009-02 Fact Check: Military Hardware novelty
edit 2: Another, very related blog text: 2009-04 SAMs with active radar homing 


  1. I am all for firing a few admirals, and would not stop until they had a few generals to join them in purgatory...

    That said, I think that much of the capability you cite as old technology was actually achieved with the CEC program, NIFC-CA has other capabilities.

    You are referencing unclassified citations.


    1. This doesn't matter, for the capability depends on having an autonomous seeker on the missile, and the navy has a delay of two or more decades between this being mature and being available in navy SAMs.
      It wouldn't matter if they had been able to do this in 2013 or 2014 for the first time - the delay is a gross failure.