Dear Members and Friends,
In the midst of the dense population in the greater Philadelphia metro area of 5.8 million people, exists up to 10 sets of S-Band radars that have been emitting wavelength radiation safely since 1975 to develop, produce, integrate and test our nation’s Naval radars.
Today, the United States Navy has requested 84 ships in the fleet to be Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) capable. To make these ships BMD capable each needs to have Aegis Fire Control and Battle Management, S-Band radar and its 4 phased array faces as well as a mixture of defensive missile interceptors deployed in the ships vertical launch containers in the fore and aft of the ship.
Aegis BMD ships are vital to the Navy’s role in protecting international access, U.S. and allied forces and our national security. U.S. combat commanders from CENTCOM HQ in Bahrain to PACOM HQ in Honolulu, Hawaii have these ships in high demand as they are an integral part of the force structure.
The Aegis BMD ships and a future land-based platform named Aegis Ashore are the dominant systems in President Obama’s Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) for missile defense. Last month it was stated in congressional testimony that the PAA will provide 100 percent protection for all of Europe by 2018 and additional protection for the United States by 2020. Administration officials also stated in testimony that a ballistic missile threat from Iran may materialize as early as 2015; one would conclude that due to distance Europe would also be threatened by 2015 or earlier.
In theory the Aegis Ashore platform would place on land the same BMD capability that is on current U.S. Aegis ships. This would provide 24/7 persistence at close to a 500 mile range with the current the SM-3 Block 1A missiles and future SM-3 Block 1B and SM-3 Block 2A missiles, as well as positioning the strategic capability to protect land areas that the Aegis BMD ships could not reach from sea. Both Aegis systems and interceptors, along with the future SM-3 Block 1B missiles, cannot shoot down long-range missiles (ICBMs) nor will they be tested, certified or proven against them. 100 percent protection of Europe by 2018 would require multiple Aegis deployments throughout Europe and in the adjacent seas.
The Aegis Ashore system would be similar to a 03 level of the Aegis ship that would be contained in stacked levels approximately 60 feet high. The levels would include water coolers, power converters, processing computers, combat information center and radar processors with the S-Band radars and antennas on top. The communications, power source, cooling tower and the vertical launch containers, that would hold a mixture of interceptors, would be located outside of the main structure. The interceptors could be placed miles away if desired.
In order to meet the 2015 PAA time-line to place an Aegis Ashore in Europe, an Aegis Ashore test bed and prototype would have to be developed and built by 2012 at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Kauai, Hawaii and to begin testing intercepts of this system by 2013. A duplicate production, testing and integration center must be also built in Moorestown, NJ for Aegis Ashore prior to the first test bed at PMRF in Hawaii to ensure quality control and delivery of the first system. This would be similar to the current ongoing Navy Aegis BMD production center with its S-Band radars produced, tested and integrated in Moorestown.
As of May, 2010 the Department of Defense, through the Missile Defense Agency, has not awarded or negotiated a contract to begin work on the Aegis Ashore system, nor have the requirements of the system been put forward and worked through. The funding for the initial Aegis Ashore test bed in Hawaii has been allocated by Congress from unused funds of the canceled third missile defense site in Poland and the Czech Republic, but these funds have not been authorized for use. Senator Carl Levin and Senator John McCain, through their leadership positions in the Senate Armed Services Committee, have questioned the authorization as it remains an issue in the yet to be approved 2011 Department of Defense budget.
These matters, along with the extremely tight schedules of development, engineering challenges, testing and certification of the SM-3 Block 1B and SM-3 Block 2A missiles add to the legitimate concern that the time-lines of the President’s PAA may be missed and the United States, troops and allies will not be adequately protected against the Iranian threat by 2015 and promises to provide Europe 100 percent coverage by 2018 may not happen.
Promises made should be promises kept