Maj. Gen. Sean A. Gainey, was appointed director, Joint Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office (JCO) ; and director of fires, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7, U.S. Army, Washington, D.C., on 21 May 2020.
On 26 June 2020, Pentagon leadership announced DoD approval of the results of the Army assessment of dozens of currently fielded Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft System (C-sUAS) capabilities. Most of the assessed systems were initially purchased to address urgent and emerging operational needs of deployed forces. This assessment determined the selection of (8) current systems for future investment based on criteria such as effectiveness, usability, sustainment and integration.
In the aftermath of this significant source selection announcement, General Gainey responded exclusively to a wide range of “what happens now” questions from Defense Systems Journal:
Defense Systems Journal: General Gainey, was COST a consideration [in your source selection] along with effectiveness, usability, sustainment and integration?
Maj. Gen. Gainey: While cost is always something we consider in fielding combat systems, it was not a stand-alone criterion in the reduction of our fielded C-sUAS capability assessment. The assessment determined which systems provided the best performance and capability mix in protecting deployed forces and infrastructure. With that said, this assessment and future JCO efforts will continue to align existing and future C-sUAS technology solutions, best address operational needs, and apply resources effectively.
Defense Systems Journal: What does it mean to be a selected system — one of the eight identified systems?
Maj. Gen. Gainey: The selected systems constitute the DoD’s interim C-sUAS capability and were determined to provide the best performance and capability mix during the operational assessment. Until future joint solutions are developed and fielded, these are the interim solutions for C-sUAS.
Defense Systems Journal: How and when will contracts flow to those systems and contractors?
Maj. Gen. Gainey: The DoD is currently in the process of identifying service leads for the interim systems. These service leads will work with vendors on future Joint R&D and procurement of the selected interim C-sUAS systems. As we seek a layered defense, more systems will be evaluated and deemed as Joint C-sUAS Capabilities for future Service procurements.
Defense Systems Journal: What contracts/contract volume will be forthcoming according to current planning?
Maj. Gen. Gainey: The JCO will direct and monitor the service-executed contracts for the interim C-sUAS systems in accordance with deployed force requirements. Services are expected to program for and execute procurement for their requirements.
Defense Systems Journal: What is the budget across DoD for FY21 and beyond, for C-sUAS procurement?
Maj. Gen. Gainey: The services will invest in those systems selected as part of the interim C-sUAS capability, while simultaneously sustaining currently fielded systems that were not selected until an approved replacement system is available. Future budgets are still in the planning phases, but each service will contribute funding to C-sUAS efforts.
Defense Systems Journal: What does it mean to NOT be a selected system? How/where/when can others solutions on-ramp or wade back into the fray?
Maj. Gen. Gainey: To maximize the protection of our personnel and infrastructure and minimize the risk from C-sUAS threats, deployed forces will continue to utilize currently fielded systems not selected as part of the interim C-sUAS capability until approved replacement systems are available. As we develop the future joint objective C-sUAS solutions, the JCO will continue to work with industry to identify emerging technologies, address the multitude of C-sUAS challenges, and encourage competition in future technology development and procurement activities. The DoD is finalizing its C-sUAS strategy and draft joint Capabilities Development Document, which will provide specifics on the path ahead for industry demonstration, experimentation and innovation opportunities.
Defense Systems Journal: Please speak to the consideration of FOREIGN technology/systems in your assessment and in the past forward for C-sUAS? You tapped a few foreign solutions here?
Maj. Gen. Gainey: To ensure deployed forces have access to the best C-sUAS performance and capability mix, the DoD assessment considered all systems that were fielded in response to urgent and emerging operational needs of deployed forces. The JCO will work with our allies and partners to evaluate foreign technology for consideration.
Defense Systems Journal: How did you come up with the four categories for assessment? Has ample attention been provided to fixed site, versus mobile solutions? What about marine/maritime solutions?
Maj. Gen. Gainey: When determining the four categories for assessment, the JCO and other stakeholders considered factors across all types of critical assets and infrastructure requiring protection from sUAS threats. The critical assets ranged from individuals to large-scale and stationary bases requiring a mix of systems that could effectively support diverse users and their operating environment. Marine and maritime solutions may be suited for use across domains, which the JCO will review as part of potential multi-domain solutions.
Defense Systems Journal: What’s the dividing line for your determination of SMALL in the sUAS platform that the C-sUAS solutions are to counter? Weight/Class?
Maj. Gen. Gainey: Groups 1-3 UAS constitute our dividing line for our determination of sUAS platforms, based on the physical and operational characteristics of the UASs in these groups. Group 3 UAS represent the transition from small to large UAS and are in some cases large enough to be considered a “traditional” air-defense threat.
Defense Systems Journal: To what extent will the Military Services and Combatant Commands be able to forge their own paths forward outside of the lanes (down-selected products) that you have proscribed here?
Maj. Gen. Gainey: The services and the combatant commands can develop and provide service-unique/command-identified requirements to the JCO for capabilities not best served by a joint solution. However, the goal remains to maximize the future capability’s utility across the Joint force.
Defense Systems Journal: Will U.S. allies have access to purchase these systems via FMF/FMS channels? Has there been interest expressed?
Maj. Gen. Gainey: In accordance with the National Defense Strategy, the DoD seeks to build mutually beneficial relationships with our allies and partners in a way that results in the greatest possible strength. For the C-sUAS mission, the undersecretary of defense for policy has been designated as the DoD representative on C-UAS matters related to international negotiations, including negotiations on arms control and compliance issues, and to the conduct of alliances and defense relationships.
Defense Systems Journal: Everyone seems to agree that budgets are coming down based on COVID-19 priorities. What impact do you think that will have on the C-sUAS mission area and its funding?
Maj. Gen. Gainey: We have not had any COVID-related impacts to the C-sUAS mission area, but continue to monitor all aspects of the situation to ensure we continue to meet the operational needs of our deployed forces.
Defense Systems Journal: How will the just-announced organizational changes – merger of the C-sUAS office into the G-3/5/7 Fires Directorate – impact the priority or execution of C-sUAS programs?
Maj. Gen. Gainey: A single director responsible for both the JCO and the G-3/5/7 Fires Directorate will result in synergies, unity of command and unity of effort given the related nature of C-sUAS and air and missile defense operations.
Defense Systems Journal: Thank you, General Gainey.