During a week of change, demonstrated by the American people’s vote to shift power in the United States Congress, a significant and complex integrated air and missile defense test by the U.S. Navy and the Missile Defense Agency was achieved, propelling change in making our world a safer place.
On the other side of the world this week, Russia visibly escalated its show of power to the West in its movement of short range scud type ballistic missiles and launchers to the border of eastern Ukraine and flaunted its strategic air power through its bombers actively infringing into northern European NATO air space.
Yesterday, off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii, the USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) – a ballistic missile defense capable Aegis destroyer outfitted with the new Baseline 9 configuration – tracked, discriminated and destroyed a raid of ballistic and cruise missiles at the same time. The salvo raid was reflective of a real world scenario to saturate and overwhelm the ship’s defenses. The new Baseline 9 configuration that enhances processing power on the Aegis ship proved its ability to enable multiple ship missions, track and discriminate multiple objects both in space and in the atmosphere, and destroy multiple threats in space and in the air simultaneously. This demonstration has provided the confidence and proof that Baseline 9 and above configurations will allow for a single U.S. Aegis BMD ship to defend itself independently, while doing very complex missions, handle saturation of multiple raids of air and space breathing missiles that require large surges of power and processing. As a consequence, the U.S. Navy, with its limited number of ships, will be more efficient, more capable and more confident in its projection of power around the world.
This is a remarkable capability to have on a global mobile platform that can operate in international waters around the world, surging to specific unstable regions as needed. The U.S. Navy Aegis BMD ships, 33 and increasing every year, are deployed off Korea in the East China Sea, off Japan in the Sea of Japan, in the Persian Gulf, off Israel, Syria and Southern Europe in the Mediterranean. These Aegis BMD ships are home ported in the 3rd Fleet in San Diego, California, Fleet Forces in Norfolk, Virginia, Mid Pacific Fleet in Honolulu, Hawaii, 7th Fleet in Yokohama, Japan and soon to be Rota, Spain with the 6th Fleet.
Not only are these new Baseline 9 configurations being placed on Aegis ships at sea, they will also go into the Aegis Ashore sites on land. This will provide these installations the same capability to track, discriminate and destroy high volume saturation raids of ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, maintaining self sufficiency for its own defense while defending large regional areas. There is currently one operating Aegis Ashore Site used for testing and proving-out in Kauai, Hawaii at the Pacific Missile Range Facility. There are two more Aegis Ashore Baseline 9 sites planned to be deployed and operational in Europe. One will be in Romania at the end of next year, the other in Poland in 2017.
There is also potential for the Aegis Ashore Site in Kauai to go fully operational in the protection of the Hawaiian Islands, and the potential for Ashore Sites to be placed in Japan and possibly on the east coast of the United States around the national capitol region. A potential Aegis Ashore on the East Coast could be fused with the upcoming JLENS aerostats being deployed for tested over the next few years. This would provide a complete 360 degree defense against cruise missiles, air threats and “scud in the tub” sea based platforms with short to medium range ballistic missiles for the national capital region.
As President Obama meets with the upcoming new leadership of Congress, General Breedlove, the Supreme Allied Commander for NATO commented on Russia’s actions also this week, saying “my opinion is that they’re messaging us…they’re messaging us that they are a great power and that they have the ability to exert these kinds of influences in our thinking.”
Who is messaging who?