Dear Members and Friends,
A small country of 17 million in the watershed of the Rhine River as it enters the English Channel, plays beyond its size and above water in its leadership to NATO on air and missile defense. Netherlands brings forward for NATO a maritime and land capability of air and missile defense manned by its three services, the Royal Netherlands Army, the Royal Netherlands Air Force and the Royal Netherlands Navy. The Netherlands enables and facilitates other NATO members in this niche area by mixing its forces in true interoperability with Germany, being cost efficient with Belgium in providing ship maintenance together on similar ships and is at the forefront and the manufacture of European air and missile defense sensors that are deployed on German, Dutch, Belgian and Danish ships.
Netherlands leadership on its four BMD (ballistic missile defense) ships that are called frigates but resemble destroyers that each are equipped with SMART-L radars and 40 vertical launchers filled with SM-2 surface-to-air defense interceptors but with no strike capability nor SM-3 BMD space interceptor capability making these ships pure sensor ships for the BMD mission. A new generation SMART-L radar, known as the SMART-L Early Warning Capability (EWC), that can do space tracking, long range discrimination and 360-degree search is replacing all of the first generation radars currently on the four Dutch ships. This BMD radar will also look to replace the current SMART L first generation radars on the German, Danish and Belgian ships. The SMART-L configuration on the Dutch De Zeven Provinciën-class frigate (F-802) used that radar to cue the USS Ross (DDG-71) BMD Aegis ship for the successful intercept and tests in 2015. (Link) Having NATO-European funded and operated upper tier discriminating and firing sensors for Europe is needed to help fill in the gaps of coverage and is a force multiplier in releasing the strain on U.S. resources and assets in Europe.
Having these four NATO navies with ballistic and air defense sensors connected and linked between themselves and with the U.S. Navy Aegis BMD ships in enabling U.S. launch off their remote sensors (link) force multiplies but having a future pooling of SM-3 and SM-6 interceptors for these four NATO Navy allies to share would exponentially force multiply ballistic missile defense for NATO and Europe.
On land, the Royal Netherlands Air Force operates three Patriot batteries which have been deployed to Turkey for two years in 2015 and the Royal Netherlands Army operates their short-range air defense of their one NASAMS (National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System) battery. The land air and missile defense forces of both Dutch Army and Air Force are based out of Venray, Netherlands near the eastern border with Germany. The Royal Netherlands Navy is based in Den Helder on Netherlands’ west coast on the North Sea.
This summer, Germany is going to empower Netherlands with providing and moving their only short-range missile defense capability with equipment and personnel to Venray under the Netherlands Air Defense command. This unification of the mission between two counties represents true interoperability and is the future of NATO as a true force multiplier. Netherlands and Germany have created a IOC (initial operational capability) for an air and missile defense task force that is called Apollo, an NATO expeditionary force which exercises annually and will continue to grow and expand with other NATO willing and capable countries like Poland, Spain and Greece. Having the Netherlands in a leadership position of short area air defense for Europe is a great enabler to put Dutch and German focus on as the lead material NATO providers for the critical air defense of the NATO VJTF (Very High Readiness Joint Task Force).
Netherlands, a historic trader, seafarer and wealthy nation, has always been mindful of its collaboration with strong and winning allies for its defense and way of life. For countries that are wealthy, more social responsibility is put forward upon them for the security and collective defense of Europe and the NATO mission. Netherlands, with 1.14 percent of its GDP (Gross Domestic Product) spending is way below the 2 percent of expected NATO member contribution. The United States picks up that deficit, which should not be their responsibility, enabling a wealthier NATO member to shrug its responsibility of security upon U.S. taxpayers. Netherlands must re-evaluate its priority of “wealth over security” for its citizens and that of Europe to retain a key leadership position and facilitator for NATO in carrying its due responsibilities for the security of NATO and the European Union its collective defense. The Netherlands’ strength in furthering contribution to the security of NATO is its relationships, its wealth, its 100-year mission of its air and missile defense and its ability to enable leadership by example of NATO capability and capacity growth of this mission.
It is no longer Dutch treat, it’s Dutch leadership and responsibility by action in resourcing and mission.
MDAA visited the Netherlands from May 13-20, 2017, hosting the first ever MDAA Dutch Missile Defender of the Year event in Soest, Netherlands on Tuesday, May 16.