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Peace Is Our Profession

May 6, 2024

Like many of my colleagues in the US Aerospace and Defense (A&D) industry, I watched the live news feeds with both disbelief, fear, and hope the evening of Saturday, April 13th.   “Disbelief” that Iran chose to directly attack Israel, “fear” that 300+ projectiles including drones, ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles would get through the defensive systems, and “hope” that little damage would be incurred and the conflict would therefore de-escalate.   As the hours of attack unfolded and the ensuing days played out, I felt an enormous amount of pride that it worked.   I repeat, it worked!  And now the industry needs to get back to work…

I have been in the A&D industry my whole career.  Starting as a Doolie at the US Air Force Academy, through engineering and leadership roles at both small and large contractors, to my current position running an A&D consulting company, I have personally lived and breathed the technologies and systems that were deployed that evening.  The US has always preached the merits of a layered defense, but everything looks good on PowerPoint slides, how would it perform in a real scenario?  The attack was a true test – a variety of offensive threats, coming from disparate directions, all near simultaneously.  One might argue this attack was the best Iran could muster since they would not want to be embarrassed on the international stage with an ineffective assault.  Fortunately, 99+% of the threats were eliminated, not only saving Israeli lives but also creating a situation where Israel felt comfortable with only a mild counter, calming a situation that could have quickly spun out of control.

The defensive responsive from the US, Israel, and our collective allies was simply remarkable.   Years of technology development and training all came together.  Space, sea, ground, and air assets all worked in unison.  Infrared and radar assets were used to detect and track the treats, electronic warfare systems were used to jam them, and interceptors (layered in nature) were used to eliminate the remaining projectiles.  And I am confident human and signals intelligence, as well as cyber, played an instrumental role in the defensive architecture.

For those of us in the A&D industry, we know that a great deal of the technology deployed that night was either developed in the US, jointly development between the US and Israel, or developed by Israel with our funding.  Either way you look at it, this was a test of our technological capabilities.  All that said, war is a cat-and-mouse game.  You can be certain that Iran and countries such as Russia, China, and N. Korea watched the same set of events unfold.  I can imagine they are racing back to the drawing boards, re-upping their investments, adjusting their concepts of operations, and doing everything possible to ensure this never happens again.

The US A&D industry can not rest on our laurels, but instead must continue to invest in technologies such as radars, electronic warfare, hypersonics, AI, autonomy, directed energy, space dominance, domestic IC chip and packaging capabilities, just to name a few priorities.  We are fighting in a much more technologically advanced world, one that will more often than not be won or lost by the merits of our electromagnetic spectrum and electronics superiority.  Whether it be entrepreneurs, venture capital, private equity, or public companies, it is paramount that we think long-term and continue to invest in research and development (R&D).  The enemy will surely evolve, so too must the US A&D industry.  

“Peace is Our Profession” was an often-used motto for the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command (SAC), the organization responsible for command and control of the US’ strategic nuclear forces from 1946 to 1992.  From what I have witnessed in my career and most recently exemplified on April 13th, I vote to call those in US A&D industry our new “Peace is Our Profession” warriors.   Let’s pause for just a minute to honor them, then get back at it.

Jeff Hassannia
Aerospace BD, LLC

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