NATO missile defence system
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is constructing a missile defence system in the Mediterranean Sea and in the territories of several European NATO member states. Plans for this system have changed several times since first studied in 2002, including as a response to Russian opposition.
A Missile defence Feasibility Study was launched after the 2002 Prague Summit. The NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A) and NATO’s Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD) were also involved in negotiations. The study concluded that missile defence is technically feasible, and it provided a technical basis for ongoing political and military discussions regarding the desirability of a NATO missile defence system. The United States negotiated with Poland and the Czech Republic over the course of several years after on the deployment of interceptor missiles and a radar tracking system in the two countries. Both countries' governments indicated that they would allow the deployment.
In April 2007, NATO's European allies called for a NATO missile defence system which would complement the American national missile defense system to protect Europe from missile attacks and NATO's decision-making North Atlantic Council held consultations on missile defence in the first meeting on the topic at such a senior level. In response, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin claimed that such a deployment could lead to a new arms race and could enhance the likelihood of mutual destruction. He also suggested that his country would freeze its compliance with the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE)—which limits military deployments across the continent—until all NATO countries had ratified the adapted CFE treaty. Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer claimed the system would not affect strategic balance or threaten Russia, as the plan is to base only ten interceptor missiles in Poland with an associated radar in the Czech Republic.
On 14 July 2007, Russia gave notice of its intention to suspend the CFE treaty, effective 150 days later. On 14 August 2008, the United States and Poland came to an agreement to place a base with ten interceptor missiles with associated MIM-104 Patriot air defence systems in Poland. This came at a time when tension was high between Russia and most of NATO and resulted in a nuclear threat on Poland by Russia if the building of the missile defences went ahead. On 20 August 2008 the United States and Poland signed the agreement, while Russia sent word to Norway that it was suspending ties with NATO.
During the 2008 Bucharest Summit, the alliance further discussed the technical details as well as the political and military implications of the proposed elements of the US missile defence system in Europe. Allied leaders recognized that the planned deployment of European-based US missile defence assets would help protect many Allies, and agreed that this capability should be an integral part of any future NATO-wide missile defence architecture. In August 2008, Poland and the United States signed a preliminary deal to place part of the missile defence shield in Poland that would be linked to air-defence radar in the Czech Republic. More than 130,000 Czechs signed a petition for a referendum on the base.
Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence
On 17 September 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the planned deployment of long-range missile defence interceptors and equipment in Poland and the Czech Republic was not to go forward, and that a defence against short- and medium-range missiles using AEGIS warships would be deployed instead. Following the change in plans, Russian President Dimitri Medvedev announced that a proposed Russian Iskander surface to surface missile deployment in nearby Kaliningrad would also not go ahead. The two deployment cancellation announcements were later followed with a statement by newly named NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen calling for a strategic partnership between Russia and the Alliance, explicitly involving technological cooperation of the two parties' missile defence systems.
According to a September 2009 White House Factsheet entiteled "Fact Sheet on U.S. Missile Defense Policy - A "Phased, Adaptive Approach" for Missile Defense in Europe" contains the following four phases:
- Phase One (in the 2011 timeframe) – Deploy current and proven missile defense systems available in the next two years, including the sea-based Aegis Weapon System, the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptor (Block IA), and sensors such as the forward-based Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance system (AN/TPY-2), to address regional ballistic missile threats to Europe and our deployed personnel and their families;
- Phase Two (in the 2015 timeframe) – After appropriate testing, deploy a more capable version of the SM-3 interceptor (Block IB) in both sea- and land-based configurations, and more advanced sensors, to expand the defended area against short- and medium-range missile threats;
- Phase Three (in the 2018 timeframe) – After development and testing are complete, deploy the more advanced SM-3 Block IIA variant under development, to counter short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missile threats; and
- Phase Four (in the 2020 timeframe) – After development and testing are complete, deploy the SM-3 Block IIB to help better cope with medium- and intermediate-range missiles and the potential future ICBM threat to the United States.
The deployment of warships equipped with the Aegis RIM-161 SM-3 missile began after Obama's speech in September 2009. These missiles complement the Patriot missile systems already deployed by American units. Though initially supportive of the plan, once USS Monterey was actually deployed to the Black Sea, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement voicing concern about the deployment.
On February 4, 2010, Romania agreed to host the SM-3 missiles starting in 2015. The first element of this revised system, an early warning radar station in Malatya, Turkey, went operational on 16 January 2012. Other parts of the missile defence system are planned to be built in Portugal, Poland, Romania and Spain. In September 2011, NATO invited India to be a partner in its ballistic missile defence system. V. K. Saraswat, the architect of Indian Ballistic Missile Defense Program, subsequently told the press, "We are analysing the report. It is under consideration."
Also in September 2011 the White House released a Factsheet that reports on the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA). With respect to EPAA's implementation as part of the NATO missile defense in Europe the factsheet notes the four phases outlined above:
- Phase One (2011 timeframe) will address short- and medium-range ballistic missile threats by deploying current and proven missile defense systems. It calls for the deployment of Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD)-capable ships equipped with proven SM-3 Block IA interceptors. In March of this year the USS Monterey was the first in a sustained rotation of ships to deploy to the Mediterranean Sea in support of EPAA. Phase One also calls for deploying a land-based early warning radar, which Turkey agreed to host as part of the NATO missile defense plan.
- Phase Two (2015 timeframe) will expand our coverage against short- and medium-range threats with the fielding of a land-based SM-3 missile defense interceptor site in Romania and the deployment of a more capable SM-3 interceptor (the Block IB). On September 13, the United States and Romania signed the U.S.-Romanian Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement. Once ratified, it will allow the United States to build, maintain, and operate the land-based BMD site in Romania.
- Phase Three (2018 timeframe) will improve coverage against medium- and intermediate-range missile threats with an additional land-based SM-3 site in Poland and the deployment of a more advanced SM-3 interceptor (the Block IIA). Poland agreed to host the interceptor site in October 2009, and today, with the Polish ratification process complete, this agreement has entered into force.
- Phase Four (2020 timeframe) will enhance our ability to counter medium- and intermediate-range missiles and potential future inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) threats to the United States from the Middle East, through the deployment of the SM-3 Block IIB interceptor. Each phase will include upgrades to the missile defense command and control system.
During its 2012 Chicago Summit NATO leaders declared that the NATO missile defence system has reached interim capability. Interim capability means that a basic command and control capability has been tested and installed at NATOs Headquarters Allied Air Command in Ramstein, Germany, while NATO Allies provide sensors and interceptors to connect to the system. It also means that US ships with anti-missile interceptors in the Mediterranean Sea and a Turkey-based radar system have been put under NATO command in the German base. “Our system will link together missile defence assets from different Allies – satellites, ships, radars and interceptors – under NATO command and control. It will allow us to defend against threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
NATO longterm goal is to merge missile defence assets provided by individual Allies into a coherent defence system so that full coverage and protection for all NATO European populations, territory and forces against the threats posed by proliferation of ballistic missiles is ensured. This goal is expected to be realised sometime between the end of the 2010s and the beginning of the 2020s. To this end Spain will host four US Aegis warships at its port in Rota while Poland and Romania have agreed to host US land-based SM-3 missiles in the coming years. According to a State Department official Frank A. Rose, the United States has "offered EPAA assets to the Alliance" as an "interim BMD capability", including the AN/TPY-2 radar deployed in Turkey, which is "under NATO operational control". Rose also said that "In addition, U.S. BMD-capable Aegis ships in Europe are also now able to operate under NATO operational control when threat conditions warrant."
A 2012 GAO report found that the phase four interceptors may be poorly placed and of the wrong type to defend the United States. This capability was planned to be in place by 2020, but this has "been delayed to at least 2022 due to cuts in congressional funding."
Poland has sought cooperation with France and Germany in the establishment of a joint missile defense system.
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