Strengthening a layered missile defense to protect Europe
Missile defense is built in layers. And Europe is building up its layers.
In May, a new land-based missile defense system was launched in Romania. Dubbed Aegis Ashore, the site is operated under NATO control, providing regional ballistic missile defense protection. Construction has begun on a second installation in Poland that is scheduled to become operational in 2018.
Both sites field the Raytheon-made SM-3® interceptor, the only weapon that can defend against short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles from both sea and shore.
“Countering the threat of ballistic missile attacks...is a collective security challenge that requires collective defense,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work said in a news release regarding the partnerships with Poland and Romania.
The two land-based SM-3 missile sites join four U.S. Naval destroyers deployed out of Rota, Spain, as the backbone of the U.S. contribution to Europe’s regional missile defense.
“The U.S. and Europe are demonstrating their ability to integrate and collaborate on solutions,” said Dr. Mitch Stevison, vice president of Raytheon Air and Missile Defense Systems, during a missile defense briefing at the Royal United Services Institute in London. “But the threat is escalating, and Europe needs continued investment to deepen its defense.”
NATO partners across the continent are building other layers of the region's missile defense, accelerating efforts to modernize their integrated air and missile defense systems to defeat “lower-tier” threats closer to cities, military bases and critical infrastructure.
These threats are best countered by the combat-proven Patriot Air and Missile Defense System, which has been tested more than 2,500 times in real-world conditions.
In 2015, The Netherlands chose to modernize its Patriot batteries, extending the system’s service life to 2040, rather than participate in the development of medium extended air defense system, or MEADS. That same year, Poland selected Patriot to replace its Soviet-era medium-range air defense system.
“Our partners must strike the right balance between making their own investments and working together through NATO and the EU on shared capabilities that enhance regional stability,” said Tim Glaeser, vice president of business development for Raytheon’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense Systems business, while attending GLOBSEC, a leading European security conference in April. “Funds are limited, which is why interoperability is critical.”
During a Politico missile defense forum in Brussels last month, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reinforced the importance of interoperability to Europe’s collective defense.
“We’re facing some new security threats and challenges,” said Stoltenberg. “None of us has all the tools in the toolkit; we have to work together to meet these challenges.”
There is some urgency driving the collaboration.
“Our adversaries are very smart and have access to increasingly sophisticated technology,” said Jack Cartland, technology director for Raytheon Integrated Air and Missile Defense Systems. “As they do their best to make their weapons more capable, we will stay two steps ahead."
That is why Raytheon invested its own funds into the new technology of gallium nitride, or GaN, for its Active Electronically Scanned Array radar. The radar gives Patriot the ability to see and engage aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles in 360 degrees.
“This is a technology that’s ready today,” said Ralph Acaba, vice president of Raytheon Integrated Air and Missile Defense Systems. “It’s ready to be fielded.”
Testing of the new Patriot radar is already underway.
“Europe’s firm commitment to missile defense is indispensable,” said Chris Lombardi, Raytheon’s country director for Europe. “We must tighten the bonds between our nations, strengthen our systems and alliances, and forge a path forward together.”
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Last Updated: 03/13/2017