Like other European nations, the Netherlands is threatened by the proliferation of ballistic missiles, conventional armaments, and the increasing hostility of near-peer adversaries both in Europe and Asia. As a result, the country has focused heavily on countering air and missile threats, as well as rocket, artillery, and mortar threats.
As a predominant NATO ally, the Netherlands has worked to integrate its air and missile defense capabilities into the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defense System, also cooperating in research and development of European theater missile defense systems. Additionally, the Netherlands is involved in the Trilateral Frigate Program alongside Germany and the United States.
The Netherlands also participates in a multi-lateral missile defense exercise with United States European Command and German Armed Forces called Joint Project Optic Windmill (JPOW). The initial focus of JPOW was to bring Theatre Missile Defense down to the tactical level. However, each iteration of the biennial exercise, from the first exercise in 1996 to JPOW17, has seen JPOW expand its scope to meet growing threats as well as increased air and missile defense capabilities while learning from the lessons of previous JPOWs. JPOW17 focused on the future concept of Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) and threat development.
Another Dutch contribution to NATO missile defenses is the Integration Test Bed facility in The Hague. According to a press release from SAIC, the facility is “a major component of a multiyear NATO project to integrate the existing missile defense programs of U.S. and allied NATO nations, helping ensure the protection of deployed forces against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.”
The Dutch defense firm Thales, along with the Royal Netherlands Navy also worked to upgrade the Smart-L long-range radar systems to provide early warning ballistic missile detection capabilities.
In 2014, the Netherlands deployed two Patriot batteries to Turkey to assist in NATO efforts protecting Turkey from potential ballistic missiles coming out of Syria. These Dutch Patriot systems were later withdrawn from Turkey in 2015.
Ballistic Missile Defense Capabilities in the Netherlands
|Patriot/PAC-3||The Netherlands||One Battalion|
|ESSM||Medium-range air defense||Deployed on four vessels||4 De Zeven Provinciën-class frigates (4)|
|NASAMS||Medium-range air defense||Unknown||Road-mobile|
|Sea Sparrow Missile||Short-range air defense||Deployed on eight vessels||Karel Doorman-class frigates (8)|
|Goalkeeper Close-in Weapon System||Short-range air defense||Deployed on eight vessels||Karel Doorman-class frigates (8)|
|SMART-L radar||Long-range surveillance and tracking radar||Deployed on four vessels||4 De Zeven Provinciën-class frigates (4)|
|SMART-S radar (Variant of SMART-L)||Long-range surveillance and tracking radar||Deployed on eight vessels||Karel Doorman-class frigates (8)|
The Netherlands in September 2011 announced a plan to upgrade four of its frigates with extended long-range missile defense early-warning radars that would contribute to NATO’s BMD mission.
In November 2015, the Netherlands decided to modernize its PAC-3 batteries instead of investing in the new Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS). These Patriot modernization efforts are to take place between 2017 and 2021 and extend the system’s life to at least 2040. In December 2015, the Netherlands decided to procure radar systems for detection of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS).[i]
In October 2016, the Netherlands invested to upgrade its Patriot air and missile defense systems with the Modern Man Station (MMS) user interface to improve the nation’s missile defense capability.[ii] This upgrade represents part of the country’s plan to upgrade its Patriot inventory to the most advanced capability currently available.[iii] Also occurring that month was a live fire exercise at the NATO Missile Firing Installation at Crete involving the Netherlands, Germany, and the United States, during which the countries conducted joint air and missile defense operations using various Patriot air and missile defense systems.