Last Friday, the United States Navy assumed command of the base in Deveselu, Romania that will house an operating, fully deployed land based missile defense site. The Aegis Ashore Ballistic Missile Defense site is scheduled to become operational at the end of 2015. This site will provide ballistic missile defense for much of Southeast and Central Europe from medium and intermediate-ranged missile threats from Iran with the use of the SM-3 IB interceptor and the baseline 9 Aegis operating system. This missile defense shield will continue to exponentially expand its defensive range to include more of Northern and Western Europe with the placement of a second missile defense site in Poland in 2018 and the addition of the SM-3 IIA interceptors which are being co-developed and produced with Japan. These SM-3 IIA interceptors have far greater range and capability than the SM-3 IB interceptors. The U.S. Naval base in Deveselu is the most significant expansion into Eastern Europe of permanent U.S. military presence since the Cold War.
The location in Romania lies directly under the path of ballistic missiles launched from Iran towards Europe and the United States. This system, called the European Phased Adaptive Approach was initially designed and deployed by the current Administration to have the capability to intercept ICBMs heading towards the United States from Iran by 2020.
President Obama has since withdrew that specific capability to defend the United States which would have developed a new interceptor called the SM-3 IIB. At the beginning of his Administration, President Obama cancelled a third GBI site in Poland put in place by President George W. Bush that would have also had the capability to protect the United States from Iranian ICBMs. Because of the policy failures to pursue a European based U.S. Homeland defense capability, deploying the current European system which cannot defend all the NATO countries coupled with having inadequate depth in the current GMD system to protect the U.S. homeland from an Iranian ICBM capability, it will be incumbent on the next President to provide this capability in the United States. There is a acceptance of risk by our President and administration for our National Security that Iran will not have ICBM and nuclear capability by 2020.
The first deployment of a full operational Aegis Ashore site in Europe will prove-out tested capability, launching interceptors from information gathered on remote forward-based sensors in Turkey and on Aegis ships in the Mediterranean Sea. With the addition of the SM-3 IIA interceptors and existing forward-based sensors, the two European Aegis Ashore sites will prove-out tested capability to engage outside the Aegis Ashore site radar ranges to engage remotely, further extending their range and defended area.
Due to the distances of the ballistic missile threat from Iran, there are no requirements or need for the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense sites in Europe to provide shorter range ballistic missile defense or cruise missile defense that an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system has the proven and deployed capability of with SM-2 interceptors and SM-6 interceptors for air breathing threats in the atmosphere. If, however, the threats to Europe and NATO become shorter range and inside the atmosphere, these Aegis Ashore sites have the inherent capability to easily provide that capability. Romania will be responsible for the defense of the U.S. Naval base and the U.S. sailors that operate the Aegis Ashore site.
“Ballistic missile threats to the U.S. and our allies are real and growing,” said Rear Adm. John Scorby, commander of Navy Region Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia. “Fortunately, NATO’s capabilities … against these threats are also real and growing.”
U.S. deployments of missile defense systems such as Patriot, Aegis and soon to be THAAD are fast becoming the workhorses of the U.S. security commitments to its allies. These deployments strengthen alliances critical to U.S. and global security. They also assure U.S. and allied air force bases the ability to project air power, enhancing U.S. extended deterrences to our allies. This, in turn, permits a reduced reliance on forward based U.S. ground forces, all the while providing security for our allies and shaping stability for the region.
In the end, it still comes down to defending the United States of America so it can extend its power, and deterrence in assuring our allies defense of their homelands. Both North Korea and Iran clearly understand this principle as they drive to gain ICBM capabilities as soon as possible to threaten the United States.
Aegis Ashore Ballistic Missile Defense sites in Europe are here to stay and they are there to show resolve, commitment and real capability to defeat threats to Europe.
MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.
MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.