Testing of Initial European Missile Shield Elements Successful, Pentagon Says

Ground testing this month of infrastructure deployed under the initial segment of the Obama administration's "phased adaptive approach" for European missile defense has shown the soundness of the plan's architecture, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said on Thursday (see GSN, Sept. 26).

Testing from Sept. 12-16 involved assets including Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense technology, a deployed X-band movable radar and the Command, Control Battle Management and Communications system, an MDA release stated.

The trial "demonstrated [Ballistic Missile Defense System] Phase 1 capabilities of the phased adaptive approach to defend European allies and deployed forces from ballistic missile threats by simultaneously executing multiple theater engagements," according to the release.

The ballistic missile defense infrastructure was deployed as part of the first phase of a U.S. plan to through 2020 field increasingly sophisticated sea- and land-based missile interceptors around Europe as a hedge against a feared ballistic missile strike from the Middle East. The Obama plan forms the backbone of a NATO-wide effort to integrate and augment individual member nations' antimissile capabilities.

The recent testing demonstrated an initial instance of the satisfactory coordination of the United States' Phase 1 phased adaptive approach antimissile systems with the alliance's Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense system (U.S. Missile Defense Agency release, Sept. 29).

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Friday said he anticipates the alliance will declare some level of ballistic missile defense capacity for Europe next May, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

"Poland, Romania and Turkey have already agreed to host key elements of this system," the NATO chief said. "And my goal for [an upcoming alliance summit in Chicago next May] is that we declare interim operational capability for NATO's territorial missile defense. We will then be able to receive early warning of missile launches directed against us."

Rasmussen said the Western military bloc would continue to pursue antimissile collaboration with Russia in the form of "two different missile defense systems with the same purpose."

"Cooperation on missile defense makes sense militarily, because it renders both our systems more effective. And it makes sense politically, because it demonstrates that our missile defense is not directed against Russia," Rasmussen said (Xinhua News Agency/China Daily, Sept. 30).

The secretary general said if a serious agenda can be set, a summit between the two former Cold War antagonists could take place in Chicago, the Associated Press reported.

The two sides have been engaged in contentious talks for months on potential missile defense collaboration; Russia refuses to accept at face value NATO and U.S. assurances that the shield would not target its strategic nuclear forces, while the alliance has thus far declined a Kremlin demand for a legal guarantee on the matter (Associated Press/San Fransisco Chronicle, Sept. 30).

The Kremlin's point man for talks on missile defense said Moscow would only agree to such a summit if an understanding has already been achieved on missile defense, Interfax reported.

"The summit will not be held if it has no content. A summit with a content, which needs to be negotiated now, is likely, but again this prospect will depend largely on the decision to be made by Russia's [next] president," Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has announced his intention to seek the presidency again in national elections scheduled for May 7, 2012; he is widely expected to win.

The alliance needs to comprehend that "if no clear, unambiguous and long-term guarantees are provided to Russia that the missile defense potential is not targeted against our security, this joint event, whatever it is, will not take place," Rogozin said (Interfax, Sept. 28).

September 30, 2011
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Ground testing this month of infrastructure deployed under the initial segment of the Obama administration's "phased adaptive approach" for European missile defense has shown the soundness of the plan's architecture, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said on Thursday (see GSN, Sept. 26).