Romania positioned as Eastern Europe’s hub of ballistic missile defence as NATO’s Aegis Ashore facility certified operational
In one of the most significant European missile defence developments in recent years, the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defence facility at the Deveselu facility in Romania was declared operational on 12 May.
The missile defence installation is designed to detect, track, engage, and destroy ballistic missiles in flight outside the atmosphere. Lockheed Martin’s Aegis Ashore is the first operational land-based version of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence system, a sophisticated collection of phased-array radars, fire control directors, computers and missiles. The Aegis BMD system has been proven in-theatre for over 40 years, which meant Lockheed Martin was well placed to produce the new system for Romania.
The company received the contract to deliver an Aegis Ashore system in Romania in 2010, with the tight timeline for installation predominantly driven by continued instability in Eastern Europe as key regional actors seek to improve the command and control of their airspace to protect against a range of threats, including ballistic and non-ballistic missiles as well as unauthorised foreign aircraft.
The site at Deveselu is built around Lockheed Martin’s SPY-1D(V) air-search radar linked to three 8-cell Mark-41 Vertical Launch Systems armed with Raytheon Standard Missile 3 interceptors. It is the same equipment used on destroyers. In addition to the new BMD system, the US is understood to have forward deployed four Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers for further ballistic missile defence patrols.
The Deveselu site is part of President Obama’s 2009 European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) for ballistic missile defence, which is an initiative to protect the US and her NATO allies from long-range ballistic missile threats. According to Mr Obama, it is meant to be “more comprehensive than the previous programme; it deploys capabilities that are proven and cost-effective; and it sustains and builds upon our commitment to protect the U.S. homeland against long-range ballistic missile threats; and it ensures and enhances the protection of all our NATO Allies.”
In addition to the Deveselu site, Lockheed Martin is working on another Aegis Ashore facility in Poland as NATO seeks to shore up its defences in Eastern Europe. According to reports, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency is expected to award a contract later this year for the installation and testing of the Aegis Ashore system. Frank A. Rose, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for defence policy and verification operations, has said that the Polish site is expected to become operational in 2018.
The Deveselu certification came at the same time as construction commenced at the second European Aegis Ashore site at the Redzikowo Base in Gmina Slupsk, Poland.
"It's fitting that work on the Poland site begins just as Aegis Ashore's important mission in Romania officially commences," said Brendan Scanlon, Lockheed Martin’s director for the Aegis Ashore programmes.
"The lessons learned and incredible teamwork that brought the Aegis Combat System ashore will lead to even greater cost-savings and efficiencies for the Missile Defense Agency, the U.S. Navy and the sailors who protect the country and its allies."
The United States sees the Aegis Ashore programme as a critical element in the defence of NATO's 28 members, particularly in light of the increasingly aggressive and unpredictable actions of state and non-state actors. In addition to this, with the region responding to a rapid increase in varied and unexpected threats from non-state actors in the Middle East, Eastern Europe is once again taking on the role as Europe’s front line defender. The system was initially designed to counter long-range threats originating outside of Europe, with Iran highlighted as a particular threat.
The Aegis Ashore system has been welcomed in the country by Daniel Ionita, Romania's state secretary for strategic affairs at the Foreign Affairs Ministry: "The facility in Deveselu is a flagship objective of our strategic partnership for the 21st century with the United States of America," he said at a news conference.
"This project is good for NATO, and moreover, it strengthens Romania's position in NATO.”
Regional cooperation and collective security is one of the driving forces behind the Aegis BMD. On the same day that Deveselu was certified operational, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised Romania’s contributions to Allied security, calling Romania “a steadfast ally.” The certification of the BMD site in Romania puts the country at the forefront of the region’s integrated air and missile defence capability, which makes it the ideal venue to explore bi-lateral strategies on effective airborne threat detection, interception and regional system integration.
Demonstrating the importance of these regional air defence threats and Romania’s central role in helping to combat them, the Romanian Armed Forces are assisting Defence IQ's 2nd Integrated Air and Missile Defence Eastern Europe conference to provide regional allies and industry leaders with a forum to learn, share the lessons learned from recent air defence operations, and understand more about current capability development programmes and the latest air defence technologies. Romania is one of a number of nations actively investing in its armed forces to bolster military capabilities and counter the threats it faces. The country announced it would strive to hit NATO’s 2% Defence Spending target by 2017; the acquisition of new airborne threat detection, inception and communication systems will form a significant part of that new cash injection.
Bringing together Defence Ministers, Chiefs of Staff, Commanders of Air Defence, Heads of Procurement and Industry Executives from across the region, Integrated Air and Missile Defence Eastern Europe will provide a critical forum for international information sharing and engagement designed to strengthen messages of cooperation with key regional allies, industry partners and counterparts across the world. Find out more by getting in touch today…
IAMD Eastern Europe is being held 26 28 July 2016 in association with the official support of Romania Defense Industry Employers' Organization. Download the agenda here.