Delivering Prototypes to Transform the Future
by Kristen Burroughs
WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 14, 2021) -- Moving fast, staying on schedule, and embedding Soldier centered designs are key in fielding next-generation capabilities to provide leaders increased options in the great power competition.
In increasing those options, the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) is developing the framework to improve strategic deterrence and create a future that is not our past.
The RCCTO led a Warrior’s Corner presentation on Monday, Oct. 11, during the opening day of the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Symposium.
This year’s theme, “Transforming for the future” is a RCCTO principle.
“It's time to change our future and we change our future by how we behave,” said LTG L Neil Thurgood, Director of Hypersonics, Directed Energy, Space and Rapid Acquisition and who oversees the RCCTO. “When we're synchronized, transparent, and executing as a team, we can do hard things to standard.”
The Warriors Corner presentation opened with a video featuring emerging capabilities and how they will help change the future battlefield. The presentation also included remarks by LTG Thurgood, followed by Ms. Marcia Holmes, Deputy Director RCCTO, and Mr. Stan Darbro, Deputy Director RCCTO.
In changing the future fight, RCCTO is strategically organized to deliver rapid prototypes with residual combat capability in support of both the Army Modernization and National Defense strategies. The RCCTO portfolio includes strategic efforts like hypersonics, mid-range capabilities and directed energy, as well as critical efforts in emerging and disruptive technology areas.
While working on an accelerated timeline, the RCCTO continues to play a key role in the Army’s monumental modernization effort by leading the “+4” signature programs to include hypersonics, mid-range capability (MRC), and directed energy (Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense and Indirect Fire Protection Capability).
LTG Thurgood told the AUSA audience that just last week, the U.S. Army equipped the I Corps’ 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, with the nation’s first prototype hypersonic equipment. This effort marked a critical milestone in transforming for the future.
In FY22, the RCCTO with field the first DE Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense (DE M-SHORAD) 50kW-class laser. The Army and the Joint services are also leveraging commonalities to deliver the Indirect Fire Protection Capability-High Energy Laser (IFPC-HEL) 300kW-class laser, and the IFPC-High Power Microwave (IFPC-HPM) in FY24. Also in FY23, RCCTO is developing and delivering an initial prototype MRC operational battery.
RCCTO, it is not just about moving fast, it is about moving fast in the right direction. That direction transitions revolutionary new technology into combat-capable prototypes. As the RCCTO continues to develop their strategic efforts, they are also developing prototypes in support of the Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office, hybrid electrification, cyber resiliency, and other emerging disruptive technologies.
These combined efforts allow the RCCTO to maintain a clear mission set to develop and deliver resilient capabilities to the warfighter quickly and cost effectively.