Love at First Site

Dear Members and Friends,

 

Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher and Romanian President Traian Basescu announced in Bucharest today that Romania and the Deveselu Air Base near Caracal, 125 miles southwest of Bucharest, will be the site of the first deployed United States Aegis Ashore missile defense system. This system is scheduled to be deployed by 2015 and will play a pivotal role in defending Europe and deterring Middle Eastern countries, such as Iran, from using or threatening to use ballistic missiles against European populations, NATO and U.S. military forward operating bases.

 

This encouraging announcement comes on the heels of the successful Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) missile test two weeks ago. That test, Flight Test Standard Missile-15 (FTM-15), proved the initial concept for the protection of Europe using the Aegis system with the forward-based AN/TPY-2 X-band radar to track, discriminate, launch and intercept a medium-range ballistic missile.

 

The Aegis Ashore system is a land based version of the Aegis BMD system deployed today on 21 U.S. Navy Cruisers and Destroyers. The system includes the current shipboard variants housed in several buildings and areas consisting of the vertical launch tubes, AN/SPY-1 S-band Radar, Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) missiles, power and cooling requirements and the Aegis Fire Control and Battle Management System.

 

The Aegis Ashore deployed in Romania will have the new 5.0 processor and the SM-3 Block IB missiles, which have not yet been certified or fully developed but are scheduled to be by 2015.  In 2018 the Romanian Aegis Ashore will also have the capability to launch the SM-3 Block IIA missile being co-developed with Japan. By 2020 a projected SM-3 Block IIB, that is currently on the drawing board, could also be added to the Aegis Ashore site in Romania. The U.S. State Department estimates that 200 military and government civilians will be manning the system that will be on a 430 acre site at the Deveselu Air Base.

 

The Romanian based Aegis Ashore system will work in coordination with deployed U.S. Aegis BMD ships in the Mediterranean as well as a forward-based AN/TPY-2 radar placed in Turkey or Bulgaria by 2011 and the Battle Management Command at the Air and Space Operations Center (AOC) at Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany. Other missile defense assets such as the Defense Support Program (DSP), Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO) Satellites, future Precision Tracking Space Sensor (PTSS) satellites as well as the airborne infrared (ABIR) concept will be integrated into the AOC at Ramstein to ultimately provide the best tracking, discrimination and shooting solution amongst all the missile defense assets.

 

The first semi- prototype of the Aegis Ashore system is located in a cornfield in Morristown, New Jersey and operated by the U.S. Navy. The first complete and fully tested Aegis Ashore system that the Romanian system will duplicate is to be deployed at the Pacific Range Missile Facility (PMRF) in Barking Sands, Kauai. It is scheduled to be in place by 2013 and will complete the testing and certification of the system by the 2015 deployment in Romania.

 

Complete funding by the Department of Defense and the United States Congress for the system in Romania is still a concern and must be addressed. Current funding takes the development of the system to 2012 and additional funding needs to be attained from outside of the already over whelmed missile defense budget. Tactical and strategic concerns about force protection requirements needed to defend the Aegis Ashore site in Romania must also be addressed adequately, including whether to deploy a Patriot Battery from the 357th ADA or consider placing SM-2 missiles in the inventory. The restraints of physics on this system and its missiles still challenge its technical capability to intercept inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBM). Because of this a hedging strategy to defeat an Iranian ICBM threat by 2015 needs to be securely in place.

The selection of the site in Romania remains a key milestone on the path towards President Obama’s Phased Adaptive Approach to protect Europe and our war fighters stationed there.

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