Agency Director Offers U.S. Missile Defense Outline

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2010 — “To have effec­tive mis­sile defense, you need more than one lay­er,” the direc­tor of the Defense Mis­sile Agency said this week.

Dur­ing the Atlantic Coun­cil mis­sile defense con­fer­ence here Oct. 12, Army Lt. Gen. Patrick J. O’Reil­ly described the “phased, adap­tive approach” pol­i­cy for mis­sile defense in Europe that Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma approved in 2009.

O’Reil­ly said the three lay­ers of the approach will counter short-range, medi­um- and inter­me­di­ate-range, and inter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles. O’Reil­ly then out­lined the four phas­es of the U.S. mis­sile defense pol­i­cy for Europe.

Phase one, to be imple­ment­ed between now through 2012, he said, calls for cur­rent, proven mis­sile sys­tems and sen­sors to be deployed at sea to pro­tect Europe and deployed U.S. ser­vice­mem­bers and their fam­i­lies.

Dur­ing phase two, extend­ing from 2012 through 2015, improved sea- and land-based sys­tems now in devel­op­ment and test­ing will increase pro­tec­tion from short- and medi­um-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles, O’Reil­ly said.

Phase three, run­ning from 2015 through 2018, will estab­lish pro­tec­tion at sea and ashore from inter­me­di­ate-range mis­siles, he said.

Phase four, extend­ing from 2018 through 2020, will pro­vide ear­ly-inter­cep­tion capa­bil­i­ty against medi­um- and inter­me­di­ate-range mis­siles, he said, with a sec­ondary capa­bil­i­ty to pro­tect against inter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles.

The phased, adap­tive approach is pri­mar­i­ly designed to increase pro­tec­tion against medi­um-range and inter­me­di­ate-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles trav­el­ing above the earth’s atmos­phere, from ranges of 1,000 kilo­me­ters to 5,500 kilo­me­ters, or about 600 to 3,400 miles, O’Reil­ly said.

Phase-four capa­bil­i­ty, he said, will allow mil­i­taries to dou­ble the area they can pro­tect, engage more than 50 mis­siles at once, and track hun­dreds of mis­siles at once.

By phase four, O’Reil­ly said, inter­cept­ing ene­my mis­siles won’t be a one-shot, one-kill require­ment.

“We want to inter­cept those mis­siles as soon as pos­si­ble after they’ve been launched,” he said. “You need a high­er-speed inter­cep­tor and you also need a mobile launch sys­tem that can be in the right place at the right time.”

That capa­bil­i­ty will be in place by 2012, O’Reil­ly said.

“It will give you the capa­bil­i­ty to inter­cept medi­um-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles [and] inter­me­di­ate-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles very ear­ly in their flight,” he said. “If you miss with that ear­ly attempt, you have anoth­er oppor­tu­ni­ty to hit with the upper tier. If you miss with that, you have anoth­er oppor­tu­ni­ty to hit with the low­er tier … the more shot oppor­tu­ni­ties, the high­er prob­a­bil­i­ty of inter­cept.”

The pri­ma­ry com­po­nents of the approach are sys­tems already in place or in test­ing, O’Reil­ly said, as well as the planned future ver­sions of those sys­tems.

U.S. sys­tems cen­tral to the phased, adap­tive approach include sen­sors, soft­ware, and launch­er and mis­sile com­po­nents, O’Reil­ly said. Aegis Bal­lis­tic Mis­sile Defense, an exist­ing sea-based sys­tem, is slat­ed for upgrade and expan­sion through phase four.

Aegis BMD incor­po­rates com­put­ers, radar, and mis­siles to detect, track and destroy short- to inter­me­di­ate-range mis­siles, he explained. Aegis BMD is cur­rent­ly aboard 21 U.S. Navy ships. Its future capa­bil­i­ties include longer range, improved ear­ly-inter­cept capa­bil­i­ty, increased num­ber of ships and mis­siles, and an ashore capa­bil­i­ty.

The Army/Navy Trans­portable Radar Sur­veil­lance sys­tem, O’Reil­ly said, is a trans­portable X‑band, high res­o­lu­tion, phased-array radar designed specif­i­cal­ly for bal­lis­tic mis­sile defense. It is capa­ble of track­ing all class­es of bal­lis­tic mis­siles and iden­ti­fy­ing small objects at long dis­tances.

The radar sys­tem, he added, pro­vides sur­veil­lance, track­ing, dis­crim­i­na­tion and fire con­trol sup­port for the Ter­mi­nal High Alti­tude Area Defense weapon sys­tem. The sys­tem will be aug­ment­ed in phas­es three and four by sen­sor sys­tems now being devel­oped, capa­ble of track­ing and inter­cept­ing ene­my bal­lis­tic mis­siles in boost phase at or near engine burnout.

The THAAD weapon sys­tem inte­grates launch­ers, inter­cep­tors, radar, fire con­trol and com­mu­ni­ca­tions units, and sys­tem-spe­cif­ic sup­port equip­ment, O’Reil­ly said.

Flight test­ing of the THAAD sys­tem began in late 2005, he said. To date, the sys­tem has a 100 per­cent mis­sion suc­cess rate in flight test­ing, he not­ed, with 10 suc­cess­ful tests and six–for-six inter­cepts. The sys­tem will be field­ed through phase four.

The Com­mand, Con­trol, Bat­tle Man­age­ment, and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­gram glob­al­ly links, inte­grates and syn­chro­nizes indi­vid­ual mis­sile defense ele­ments, sys­tems and oper­a­tions, O’Reil­ly explained. It cre­ates a lay­ered mis­sile defense capa­bil­i­ty, he said, that enables response to threats of all ranges in all phas­es of flight. The pro­gram is cur­rent­ly in use and will be updat­ed and enhanced through phase four.

O’Reil­ly said NATO is devel­op­ing its own sys­tem, known as ALTBMD: The Active Lay­ered The­ater Bal­lis­tic Mis­sile Defense pro­gram. The pro­gram, he said, will upgrade, test and inte­grate NATO’s com­mand and con­trol sys­tems and under­ly­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­work to enable effec­tive infor­ma­tion exchanges between var­i­ous NATO and nation­al mis­sile defense sys­tems. It also will pro­vide com­plete cov­er­age against tac­ti­cal bal­lis­tic mis­siles with ranges up to 3,000 kilo­me­ters, or 1,864 miles.

At NATO’s dis­cre­tion, O’Reil­ly said, U.S. mis­sile defense sys­tems will inte­grate with NATO and allied nations’ sys­tems to strength­en their over­all defense capa­bil­i­ty.

“Our NATO allies can deter­mine how they want to con­tribute to [cruise mis­sile and short-range bal­lis­tic mis­sile] defense,” he said. “We have the upper lay­er. They can effec­tive­ly deploy the low­er lay­er for an effec­tive defense.”

Mis­sile defense will be a major top­ic of dis­cus­sion at the NATO sum­mit set for Nov. 19 and 20 in Lis­bon, Por­tu­gal. NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Anders Fogh Ras­mussen has declared mis­sile defense a crit­i­cal capa­bil­i­ty that the alliance must acquire.

At his month­ly press brief­ing in Brus­sels Oct. 11, Ras­mussen pre­sent­ed the agen­da for the for­eign and defense min­is­ters’ meet­ing held there yes­ter­day. The meet­ing was a pre­lim­i­nary ses­sion for the Novem­ber sum­mit.

NATO should devel­op the capa­bil­i­ty to defend Europe from the threat of mis­sile attack,” Ras­mussen said. “More than 30 coun­tries in the world have, or are acquir­ing, bal­lis­tic mis­siles, some of which can already reach Europe.”

Giv­en the cat­a­stroph­ic effects a mis­sile strike in Europe could have, Ras­mussen said, NATO can’t afford not to have mis­sile defense.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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