With complete suppression and dominance of their airspace by Russian Forces, the Ukrainian military from land has shot down hundreds and hundreds of Russian drones with antiquated machine guns and rifles this past year. Over 641 Russian drones last year have intruded into Ukraine’s airspace providing artillery firing solutions and intelligence of Ukraine troops and arms movements. Over 250 Russian drones this year have already intruded Ukrainian airspace. Unable to shoot these Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and drones early and before they begin disseminating information, the Ukrainians have to wait to see them or hear them, which is often too late for stopping the deadly effects they bring.
There is no sophistication of sensors, high technological means of intercept, command and control, or electronic warfare used by the Ukrainians, in fact new air defense technologies that have been introduced cannot hold up to the terrain, weather conditions, real life battle environment, and the contested and suppressed airspace. Russia continues to dominate through cross domain warfare upon Ukraine, which includes massive amounts of Electronic Warfare (20 units) in support of a massive combat force of over 36,000 personnel, 478 tanks, 848 armored fighting vehicles, 732 artillery systems, and 208 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems. The four main priorities of Russia’s Electronic Warfare units in Eastern Ukraine are to suppress enemy’s UAV by deployment of jamming stations, jamming of VHF and UHF and GSM communication, integration with strike weapons, and detections of information leakage channels and their suppression. This is the evolution of warfare that has taken place while the United States and NATO have been engaged in the Middle East on non-peer adversaries.
There is a tremendous real gap of air defense capability in Europe today that is reflected in Ukraine and a threat to Europe that Russia is demonstrating in Ukraine in these air operations across multiple domains to bring forward their desired effects. Today NATOs forward enhanced presence forces deployed in Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia to show unity and strength to Russia do not possess air and missile defense capability deployed, integrated nor exercised into their units. Further, consideration and calculus must take place within NATO on the repercussions of the recent offensive strike on Syria by France, the United Kingdom, and the United States should the Russian air defense systems engaged and an escalation proceeded, NATO and the United States simply do not have the capability or capacity to deter or defend major critical assets in Europe from Russia.
Over three days last week in London, we interacted with nine European countries and militaries, along with the United States on air defense concepts and capabilities for Europe in countering UAS. We were asked to present on “Filling the Air Defense Gap in Europe” to this group.
Recognition of the gap and of the threat to Europe is the fundamental foundation of moving towards a unified and contributed solution of the coalition of the willing allies in Europe. Command and Control and sharing of the common air picture amongst the willing contributing European Allies is the cornerstone building block to enable and force generate capability and capacity. Policies and foreign disclosure must enable sharing and interoperability amongst the coalition of the willing. A master Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) plan must be put forward along with combined service, multinational mass annual exercises to prove out this master plan and put forward both the capabilities and capacities required. Live fire, layered, and multinational IAMD exercises in Europe to gain readiness and reliability to implement the master plan must be adhered to. A balanced approach in air and missile defense of fixed assets such as air fields and mobile assets such as the maneuvering combat brigade teams must be equally developed and deployed. A European cross domain, cross service multinational IAMD school to bring new culture, new systems, and team relationship building is essential to success. With the contribution from European Allies of air and missile defense capabilities and capacity must come a command structure of this enterprise within NATO, also in parallel command of the current United States 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC) of U.S. missile defense forces to U.S. Air Force Europe (USAFE) and European Command (EUCOM).
Europe can ignore the gap, Europe can politically distance itself from the gap, or Europe can address take ownership and fill the gap. The United States should not and cannot fill this gap alone. It is an enterprise of the willing nations to include the United States to fill the gap. Filling NATOs obligation and intent of each nation to put forward 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) towards defense is a gap filler. Only eight of the 28 NATO nations are gap fillers – not enough.
This morning French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the United States Congress and highlighted 21st century threats and reestablishment of military strength through cooperation to preserve world order. President Macron wants to fill the gap.