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Riki Ellison joined by Tony Manganiello, MDAA Board of Directors, MG Sean Gainey, US Army, Director, Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office, Gen(Ret) Jon Thomas, MDAA

We’re very excited today to bring forward, I think one of the most pressing prolific issues in the world today, and that is the small unmanned vehicles and countering those vehicles, and reducing the cost curve that our nation faces to create really not only a defense, but a deterrent against those that are proliferating these systems.

So today we’re very fortunate to have the Secretary of Defense’s number one person that made this a significant mission, and they’ve put in Major General Sean Gainey as the Joint Commander to create a joint capability to defeat and defend these systems. Sean’s not only just that, but Sean’s also the head of the army’s training and equipping for both long-distance fires or artillery and air defense. So that says a lot right there with that statement, the confidence the Secretary of Defense has in his ability to do that.

Riki Ellison, “Saving Lives and Winning the Cost Curve: Defeating Drones and UAS”, January 13, 2022

The first, the cost curve piece, what a lot of people don’t realize is that there’s a lot of great technology out there from the electronic warfare. When you’re talking some of the smaller UAS’s, your group ones that are out there that are being very effective. And all of the services have worked very hard and closely, to where we can jam the signals, or we can hijack the UAS’s. So a lot of great efforts and low cost effort. But also, what a lot of people don’t understand is, we have directed energy systems out there, right now, that are effectively engaging these UAS’s.

We know we have a lot of work in front of us to continue to get after this advanced threat. And by no means, am I oversimplifying it. But the fact of the matter is that technology area of electronic warfare, directed energy, and some of the lower cost interceptors that I highlight, the low collateral interceptor, and some of the lower cost interceptors, like the Kodi interceptor, that’s been very successful out there, are assisting us in the cost curve. Because, some of these larger UAS’s, you have some countries shooting Patriot missiles, a couple million dollars, but, they’re forced to, because they have to, to provide protection. But, as we look at this problem setting, if there’s a way to effectively do it in our layered approach, and reduce the cost, whether it’s through our C-RAM engagements, or our Coyote engagements, or EW type of engagements, obviously, that’s where we want to be. Because the sheer amount of UAS, small UAS’s that we’re going to see, you’ll never have enough larger interceptors to outshoot them… When you look at, in your terms, cost curve, and trying to get after this threat.

MG Sean Gainey, “Saving Lives and Winning the Cost Curve: Defeating Drones and UAS”, January 13, 2022

That’s truly where it’s going to be shown how serious we are about this, because getting to that capacity, is going to require us to make trades on other things. So are we willing to do less with… I don’t know, I’ll use an Air Force example… Buy a few less aircraft to make sure that our Air Force units… We have this discussion about roles and responsibility, but whoever, those Air Force field commanders that are at a small airfield in a second island chain or in the first island chain or somewhere in Eastern Europe, to make sure that they have sufficient capacity of the capability. 

Lt Gen(Ret) Jon Thomas, “Saving Lives and Winning the Cost Curve: Defeating Drones and UAS”, January 13, 2022

I wish we can go ahead and give you the ability to go ahead and make changes quicker, and have the authority to go ahead and do that and give the commanders the same type of thing, to go ahead and get that stuff going. Let’s break through this, because there’s a lot of solutions out there in America. We got a lot of innovative people, and I know you’re tapping into them, so just… But let’s not go ahead and then say, “Okay, well, we’ll give it to you three years from now,” because we’ll have probably 15 other types of UASs by the time you get it. Over.

Tony Manganiello, “Saving Lives and Winning the Cost Curve: Defeating Drones and UAS”, January 13, 2022

On January 12th, 2022, the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance hosted a virtual discussion on “Saving Lives and Winning the Cost Curve: Defeating Drones and UAS.”

Click here to watch the complete roundtable

Click here for a printable version of the transcript


MG. Sean A. Gainey, Director, Joint C-UAS Office (JCO) and Director, Fires in the G3/5/7, HQ Department of the Army

LTG. (Ret) Jon T. Thomas, Senior Fellow for Global Affairs and Special Advisor to the MDAA Board for Integration of Air and Missile Defense

Anthony Manganiello, Board Member, Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance

Riki Ellison Chairman and Founder Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance

Mission Statement

MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.

MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.