Denmark has announced that they will contribute to NATO’s missile defense architecture in Europe by enhancing their naval frigates with ballistic missile defense radars. This contribution will enable greater protection of Europe and help supplement the ongoing implementation of President Obama’s European Phased Adaptive Approach to defend Europe from Iranian missile threats. Adding Danish ships with air defense and ballistic missile defense systems in the Mediterranean Sea and around Europe will help share the missile defense burden and relieve some of the strain on the U.S. Navy Aegis BMD Ships deployed on this mission.
“We will offer that one or more of our frigates can be outfitted with a radar that can be part of the missile defense. There is wide support for that.” Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard said last Thursday.
The Royal Danish Navy currently has three air defense frigates that could be enhanced with missile defense capable radars. These frigates are the HDMS Iver Huitfeldt, Peter Willemoes, and the Niels Juel.
In addition to the NATO mission, the Royal Danish Navy with enhanced missile defense radars could in the future adapt a missile defense interceptor platform with interceptors and processors on these ships or remotely to easily defend its entire homeland and population from ballistic missile threats.
The Danish foreign ministry has made clear that the decision was motivated by the need to defense Europe and against ballistic missile threats from rogue states such as Iran, and was not a move against Russia. Nevertheless, other NATO allies in or near the Baltic, including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, have called for a reassessment of the NATO’s missile defense posture towards Russia.
Denmark is one of 10 members of NATO that contribute to active ballistic missile defense systems or host missile defense sites and one of 20 allies around the world with the United States in partnering on missile defense systems or their deployment. Denmark also hosts the Thule Early Warning Radar in Greenland, which contributes to the United States homeland missile warning and detection.
It is impressive for NATO membership countries to see Denmark step up, recognize the threat and lead by example by contributing to the team effort to make Europe, Turkey and North America safer.