By 2nd Lt. Louis Truett , 3rd Bn., 43rd ADA, 11th ADA Bde:
(El Paso, Texas, Nov. 30, 2017)
The 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery “Legion” Regiment, 11th Air Defense “Imperial” Brigade, leads the way in the development of new Patriot equipment, software and tactics.
The Legion is tasked with the Patriot modernization mission within the Air Defense Artillery Branch modernization efforts, specifically, the Post Deployment Build-8.
Since receiving the tasking in 2016, Legion has achieved numerous successes during testing of new air defense equipment, including effective testing of the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System. In addition, the unit has developed tactics to accompany the Patriot equipment software upgrades. The most recent success was the launch of a PAC 3 Missile Segment Enhancement interceptor from a remote launcher Sept. 17.
In late August, Legion deployed a small unit of highly skilled Patriot equipment operators and maintainers to the Marshall Islands to test the capabilities of the PAC 3 MSE interceptor and remote launchers.
In early 2017, the winner of the Legion’s “Best Crew” Equipment Control Station Competition would execute the launch and validate the PAC 3 MSEs on the test site.
Organizers selected the winning crew from Battery C, the “Crusader Battery.”
These Soldiers were 2nd Lt. Louis Truett, tactical control officer, Spc. John Gundlach, tactical control assistant, and Spc. Oscar Mejia, communication specialist. Additional crews selected were an ECS crew and launchers reload crew from Battery B, “Beast Mode.”
After arriving in the Marshall Islands and making their way to the remote Meck Island, 38 miles north of Kwajalein Atoll, the daunting task of establishing a Patriot site in the austere environment set in.
After several days of battling oppressive heat, intense rains and ornery ocean birds, Soldiers emplaced the Patriot equipment and staged the launchers on a distant island several miles away. Soon after Soldiers emplaced the equipment, it was time for the culminating event of the series of PAC 3 MSE interceptor tests.
During the early morning hours of Sept. 17, the crew launched a tactical ballistic missile from Wake Island, located 695 miles north of the Kwajalein Atoll, with a trajectory leading straight to Meck Island.
Once the TBM was within range for engagement, the Patriot system successfully established its ability to communicate with the remote launchers several miles away and initiated the launch sequence for the PAC 3 MSE interceptor.
Once the ECS crew received authorization to launch, the interceptor effectively demonstrated its ability to detect, track and intercept threats with a ferocity unmatched by previous interceptors the Patriot system uses.
This testing established several concepts, including the dominance of the Patriot interceptors and system over the current aerial threats possessed by our adversaries.
“Today’s global security environment demands reliable solutions. We expect the PAC 3 MSE interceptor to continue serving as an integral layer of the defense in the protection of armed force’s personnel, citizens and infrastructure,” said Scott Arnold, vice president and deputy of Integrated Air and Interceptor Defense at Lockheed Martin Interceptors and Fire Control.
This testing proves this and that the Patriot system is a premier weapon system that will be used to provide global security well into the 21st century, Arnold said.
This is achieved through using remote launchers to expand the defended footprint and lethality zone of the Patriot system. As testing continues, the Patriot system abilities and interceptors’ abilities will surge to maintain the aerial dominance that is associated with the Patriot system and the Legion.
As the Legion remain at the tip of the spear for all modernization efforts in the ADA branch. They will continue to evaluate and further the capabilities of the Patriot system and those of the ADA branch. The successes achieved during its brief time on this mission are only a sign of the achievements to come.