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The Phased Adaptive Approach: Integration of the EPAA and ALTBMD

Part 3

The threat to Europe posed by ballistic missiles armed with WMD as well as the way in which the EPAA and ALTBMD will dovetail to deal with this threat was perhaps best summed up in a keynote address by Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Frank Rose at the 2011 Multinational BMD Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Sept. 5, 2011:

The threat from short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles to our deployed forces, allies, and partners is growing, and this threat is likely to increase in both volume and complexity in the coming years. Many states are increasing their inventories, and making their ballistic missiles more accurate, reliable, mobile, and survivable. Trends in ballistic missiles show increased ranges, more advanced propellant systems, better protection from pre-launch attack, and the ability to counter BMD systems.

Iran, for example, is fielding increased numbers of mobile regional ballistic missiles and claims to have incorporated anti-missile defense tactics and capabilities into its ballistic missile forces. During its war games earlier this year, Iran unveiled missile silo facilities and claimed to have demonstrated a capability to strike targets inside Israel and southeastern Europe with successfully tested solid-propellant, 2,000-kilometer medium-range ballistic missiles. Iran is likely working to improve the accuracy of its short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.

NATO nations are exploring ways to have their ships participate in the EPAA via the Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD). For example, in October 2011 Spain announced that a BMD-capable Aegis frigate of the Alvaro de Bazan class would enter service in 2012, and in December 2011 the Netherlands announced its intent to deploy four BMD-capable naval vessels as part of this shield. Additionally, in February 2012 NATO announced that it will base a command center for the European missile shield in Ramstein, Germany and that land-based interceptors will be placed in Romania by 2015 and Poland by 2018.

USS Ross (DDG 71)

The guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) is moored pierside at BAE Systems, Norfolk, Va., April 22, 2013. Ross was undergoing the execution phase of her availability prior to system restoration. Ross, along with the USS Cook (DDG 75) is scheduled to be homeported in Rota, Spain by FY-2014. U.S. Navy photo by Shelby F. W. West

The EPAA is being implemented within the NATO context. At the 2010 Lisbon Summit, NATO approved a new Strategic Concept and decided to develop the capability to defend NATO European populations, territory and forces against the growing threat from ballistic missile proliferation. At the Summit, NATO Heads of State and Government also decided to expand the scope of the NATO Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) program to serve as the command, control, and communications network to support this new capability. These decisions have created a framework for allies to contribute and optimize BMD assets for their collective defense. The allies welcomed the EPAA as a U.S. national contribution to the new NATO territorial BMD capability, in support of the nation’s commitment to the collective defense of the Alliance under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

The European PAA is moving ahead quickly, often in spite of strident protests from Russia.  The U.S. announced in February 2012 that four BMD-capable U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke destroyers will deploy to Europe to form an ongoing commitment to European missile defense. USS Ross (DDG 71), and USS Cook (DDG 75) will arrive at their new homeport in Rota, Spain in FY 14, and USS Carney (DDG 64) and USS Porter (DDG 78) will follow in FY 15. Indeed, it is clear that Congress intends to continue to monitor the Navy’s commitment of Aegis ships to the EPAA.  In hearings on the Navy’s FY 2013 Budget Request in March 2012, Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin questioned Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and CNO Adm. Jonathan Greenert regarding the Navy’s ongoing commitment to provide Aegis BMD ships in the Eastern Mediterranean, with Mabus reaffirming that commitment, while adding that the Navy also intended to make more Aegis ships BMD-capable.

Despite the initial concentration on Europe, the Phased Adaptive Approach is not limited to that region. Capabilities first deployed under the EPAA framework will likewise be available wherever and whenever BMD-equipped Aegis warships deploy globally.

But beyond the U.S. contribution, and perhaps more importantly, NATO nations are exploring ways to have their ships participate in the EPAA via the Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD). For example, in October 2011 Spain announced that a BMD-capable Aegis frigate of the Alvaro de Bazan class would enter service in 2012, and in December 2011 the Netherlands announced its intent to deploy four BMD-capable naval vessels as part of this shield. Additionally, in February 2012 NATO announced that it will base a command center for the European missile shield in Ramstein, Germany and that land-based interceptors will be placed in Romania by 2015 and Poland by 2018.

Despite the initial concentration on Europe, the Phased Adaptive Approach is not limited to that region. Capabilities first deployed under the EPAA framework will likewise be available wherever and whenever BMD-equipped Aegis warships deploy globally. U.S. BMD efforts in Europe benefit from a structured, long-standing NATO alliance structure. Such a structure does not exist in regions such as East Asia, although the strategic relationship between Japan and the United States is already supporting close collaboration in BMD matters. In those theaters, U.S. flexibility and the ability to build on existing, less well-delineated operational command structures is critical. The presence of Aegis BMD capabilities in both the U.S. and other navies such as those Japan – and potentially others – facilitates that process.

Méndez Núñez (F104)

The Spanish Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate Méndez Núñez (F104). As part of the Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD), Spain is acquiring BMD capabilities for its Aegis-equipped Álvaro de Bazán-class frigates. Armada Española photo

Indeed, based on the positive response to the EPAA, the United States has announced its desire to build regional missile shields in Asia and the Middle East, with U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs Madelyn Creedon, noting in March 2012:

The U.S. push for new anti-missile bulwarks includes two sets of trilateral dialogues – one with Japan and Australia and the other with Japan and South Korea. Such shields could help counter perceived threats to their neighbors from Iran and North Korea and help defend the United States from any future long-range missiles that the two countries might develop… In the Middle East, Washington will work to promote “interoperability and information-sharing” among members of the Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman – as they acquire greater missile defense capabilities.

 

Moving Forward With the EPAA

In his testimony before the Defense Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee on July 17, 2013, Vice Adm. James Syring, Director of the Missile Defense Agency, reaffirmed the United States commitment to the European Phased Adaptive Approach, noting:

We will continue to support the EPAA to provide coverage of European NATO territory from Iranian ballistic missile threats. In 2011 MDA completed Phase 1 of the EPAA to provide coverage of NATO territory in Europe with the deployment of Aegis BMD 3.6 ships with SM-3 IAs and a SPY-1 radar in the Mediterranean, the AN/TPY-2 radar (FBM) to U.S. European Command (EUCOM) in Turkey, and the C2BMC Spiral 6.4 system at Ramstein AFB in Germany. We will continue to invest resources for EPAA development, testing and deployment.

Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands

A unitary medium-range ballistic missile target launches from the Pacific missile range facility and flies northwest towards a broad ocean area of the Pacific Ocean, Feb. 12, 2013. The guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG-70), equipped with the second-generation Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense weapon system, used a launch-on-remote capability to engage the target with a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) block IA guided missile. As a part if the U.S. commitment to the EPAA, a $428 million Aegis Ashore test site was constructed at Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mathew J. Diendorf

Our goal in EPAA Phase 2 is to provide a robust capability against SRBMs and MRBMs by ensuring the system provides multiple opportunities to engage each threat missile in flight. The architecture includes the deployment of the Aegis BMD 4.0 and 5.0 weapon systems with SM-3 IBs at sea and at an Aegis Ashore site in Romania.

Deployment of Phase 3 will enhance and expand protection for European NATO countries and U.S. forces through the region from MRBMs and IRBMs from the Middle East. The upgraded Aegis Weapons System combined with the faster, longer reaching SM-3 IIA will provide capability to counter more sophisticated threats when compared to the SM-3 IA and IB and will extend coverage to NATO allies in Europe threatened by longer range ballistic missiles.

With the completion of Phase 3, EPAA will provide upper-tier coverage of NATO Europe.

A high level of commitment to international partnership from both the United States and its allies – already evinced by ALTBMD and C2BMC shared situational-awareness tests – will encourage successful interoperability initiatives. This interoperability will, in turn, help ensure the success of the Phased Adaptive Approach

An important aspect of the success of the EPAA is system testing.  As one indication of how the administration is “fast tracking” Aegis Ashore, in August 2010 the Missile Defense Agency announced plans to allocate $428 million to an Aegis Ashore test site at the Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii. The Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) will support flight testing of Aegis Ashore capabilities in an operational configuration. Construction is underway at PMRF on the island of Kauai, and the complex will be available to conduct the first Aegis Ashore test firing in FY 2014.

The decision as to whether and how to connect the European NATO allies’ short- and medium-range theater missile defense systems to the U.S. long-range missile defense system will be critical to the coherence of Alliance-wide BMD. The current work in integrating the EPAA and ALTBMD is an important step toward fully-integrated BMD. A high level of commitment to international partnership from both the United States and its allies – already evinced by ALTBMD and C2BMC shared situational-awareness tests – will encourage successful interoperability initiatives. This interoperability will, in turn, help ensure the success of the Phased Adaptive Approach.

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