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The Phased Adaptive Approach: Phases and Components

Part 2

In our previous post on the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) we looked at the background on this initiative as well as some of the proponents and opponents of the European PAA (EPAA). Moving forward, the EPAA is both informed by, and provides a framework for, coming advances in Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD). EPAA phases include:

  • Phase 1 (current) – Deploy current and proven missile defense systems to counter existing short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) and medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) threats.

This includes sea-based Aegis BMD assets, as well as cueing sensors such as forward-based AN/TPY-2 radars. Phase 1 also encompasses command, control, battle management, and communications (C2BMC) upgrades to the air operations center in Ramstein Air Base, Germany, which will better tie Aegis warships and other sensors into the broader European command and control network.

Aegis Ashore will reduce the Navy’s need to maintain multimission Aegis BMD ships on station that would otherwise constrain their availability for other BMD and general-purpose naval missions.

The arrival in March 2011 of the cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) in European waters brought new BMD capabilities – including the proven SM-3 Block IA – to the region as part of Phase 1. Monterey and her crew also broke new ground as they took part in the development, testing, and verification of the command and control processes, data pathways, and tactics, techniques, and procedures needed for Phase 1 and European BMD. A key event in this process occurred in August 2011, when the ship participated in the first field exercise evaluating the interoperability of the ballistic missile defense system (BMDS) and NATO’s Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) network. As Army Lt. Gen. Patrick J. O’Reilly, then-program executive for programs and integration, Missile Defense Agency (MDA), described at the Royal United Service Institute’s Twelfth Missile Defense Conference in June 2011, “ALTBMD provides the link between upper and lower tier, while sea-based systems add to the robustness of the network.”

  • Phase 2 (2015 time frame) – Deploy the more capable SM-3 Block IB interceptor in both sea- and land-based configurations, as well as more advanced sensors to expand the defended area against short- and medium-range missile threats.

Overall, Phase 2 will usher in the era of longer-range, networked, regional BMD, one in which interceptors can leverage fire-control data passed from an array of sensors. It also will mark the implementation of Aegis Ashore, which will be deployed initially at Deveselu Air Base in southern Romania. This land-based facility will enhance European BMD while increasing the mission flexibility and operational mobility of forward-deployed Aegis warships. The latter will be freer to redeploy to cover additional threats or other axes as required by U.S. regional combatant commanders, even as they help maintain continuous Aegis BMD coverage throughout the region.

As part of EPAA Phase 2, Aegis Ashore is a re-locatable, land-based Aegis BMD system that, together with the shipboard Aegis BMD, will provide the near-term deterrent framework against regional threats to Europe from short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. Aegis Ashore will reduce the Navy’s need to maintain multimission Aegis BMD ships on station that would otherwise constrain their availability for other BMD and general-purpose naval missions. In the NATO area, these conjoined elements of the PAA are the U.S. contribution to the NATO territorial missile defense mission and requirement adopted at the Alliance’s November 2010 Lisbon Summit.

The SM-3 Block IB is a key element of Phase 2. With its enhanced performance and launch on remote (LoR) capability, the missile will increase the size of the defended area without requiring an increase in the number of Aegis BMD assets ashore and afloat that are committed to the mission.

During this important summit, President Barack Obama highlighted the importance of the Phased Adaptive Approach as well as the potential of Aegis BMD to undergird global partnerships:

We must strengthen the full range of capabilities that are needed to protect our people and prepare for the missions of tomorrow … Another necessary alliance capability is missile defense of NATO territory, which is needed to address the real and growing threat from ballistic missiles. The Phased Adaptive Approach to European missile defense that I announced last year will provide a strong and effective defense of the territory and people of Europe and our deployed American forces. Moreover, it forms the foundation of greater collaboration – with a role for all allies, protection for all allies, and an opportunity to cooperate with Russia, which is also threatened by ballistic missiles.

Standard Missile 3 (SM-3)

The European PAA (EPAA) is informed by the three phases of the Aegis ballistic missile defense, that will see a correspondent development of the SM-3 missile. Raytheon graphic

The SM-3 Block IB is a key element of Phase 2. With its enhanced performance and launch on remote (LoR) capability, the missile will increase the size of the defended area without requiring an increase in the number of Aegis BMD assets ashore and afloat that are committed to the mission.

  • Phase 3 (2018 time frame) – Deploy the more advanced SM-3 Block IIA missile to counter short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missile threats. Another Aegis Ashore site in Poland is scheduled to reach initial operating capability in 2018.

Deployed both at sea and ashore, the SM-3 Block IIA will provide expanded regional coverage against IRBMs. Phase 3 also should see the introduction of engage on remote (EoR) capabilities. To the extent that LoR and EoR can provide enhanced capability to the Block IA, IB and IIA interceptors, these missiles, supported by a C2BMC-netted sensor framework, have the potential to provide improved territorial coverage throughout Europe – and possibly contribute to United States homeland missile defense in some scenarios.

To the extent that LoR and EoR can provide enhanced capability to the Block IA, IB and IIA interceptors, these missiles, supported by a C2BMC-netted sensor framework, have the potential to provide improved territorial coverage throughout Europe – and possibly contribute to United States homeland missile defense in some scenarios.

Recently, the decision was made to have the EPAA end with the deployment of the SM-3 Block IIA (being co-developed with Japan and suitable for shipboard and land-based use). As Frank Rose, deputy assistant secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, noted in an April 18, 2013 speech in Poland:

One of these policy changes is that the SM-3 IIB missile defense interceptor program – the core element of EPAA Phase 4 – is being restructured into a technology development program. With the SM-3 IIB interceptor, Phase 4 would have provided an intercept capability against ICBMs launched at the U.S. homeland from the Middle East. But the SM-3 IIB program also experienced significant delays, in part due to the U.S. Congress underfunding this interceptor. So as you know, the SM-3 IIB interceptor will no longer be developed or procured.

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Captain George Galdorisi is a career naval aviator. He began his writing career in 1978...