Enhancing NATO’s Missile Defence

The pro­lif­er­a­tion of bal­lis­tic mis­siles pos­es an increas­ing threat to Allied pop­u­la­tions, ter­ri­to­ry and deployed forces. This is the rea­son why the Nether­lands decid­ed to con­tribute to NATO’s Mis­sile Defence sys­tem.

HNLMS De Zeven Provin­ciën (F802)
Source: NATO
Click to enlarge

“From intel­li­gence we know that now more than 30 coun­tries have or are acquir­ing bal­lis­tic mis­siles. They do not pose an imme­di­ate threat, but in the long run it could become a threat and in order to be pre­pared for that, we think it is impor­tant that NATO devel­ops bal­lis­tic mis­sile defence capa­bil­i­ty and that the Nether­lands par­tic­i­pates in con­tribut­ing to that capa­bil­i­ty,” says Pieter-Henk Schroor from the Dutch Min­istry of Defence. 

Con­tribut­ing to col­lec­tive defence

At the moment, NATO is devel­op­ing the com­mand and con­trol arrange­ments for the Mis­sile Defence Sys­tem. Sen­sors and inter­cep­tors will be pro­vid­ed by nations or groups of nations through vol­un­tary con­tri­bu­tions. The nation­al con­tri­bu­tion of the Nether­lands will be to upgrade four air-defence frigates with extend­ed long-range “Smart‑L” radar systems. 

The new radar will form a part of the NATO mis­sile defence archi­tec­ture. After mod­erni­sa­tion it will be able to detect and track incom­ing mis­sile threats at a dis­tance of more than 1000 kilo­me­tres and pass that infor­ma­tion to NATO’s air defence sys­tem, which can then con­duct an intercept. 

“All sys­tems that are part of the bal­lis­tic mis­sile shield are inter­con­nect­ed through net­works. So they will be able to pass infor­ma­tion and track data. Once the ship with the mod­ernised Smart‑L radar detects this bal­lis­tic mis­sile, all the oth­er sys­tems and par­tic­i­pants would be aware of that mis­sile,” explains Dutch Navy com­man­der Onno Boshouwers. 

Long-term invest­ment

The cost to the Dutch gov­ern­ment of mod­ernising the Smart‑L radar sys­tems is between €100 mil­lion and €250 mil­lion: a sig­nif­i­cant amount in times of eco­nom­ic aus­ter­i­ty. But accord­ing to Pieter-Henk Schroor it is con­sid­ered as a smart invest­ment for the Nether­lands in the long term. 

“We already have a long tra­di­tion in the Nether­lands in work­ing very close­ly togeth­er with the radar indus­try. This upgrade is also devel­oped by a Dutch com­pa­ny and we hope that since we are the launch­ing cus­tomer, maybe oth­er coun­tries will also decide to buy this sys­tem and then of course this will low­er the cost.” 

Although defence bud­gets are under pres­sure, the Nether­lands still con­sid­ers it impor­tant to invest in new tech­nolo­gies. This invest­ment defends Dutch secu­ri­ty and the secu­ri­ty of its fel­low NATO members. 

Allied Com­mand Oper­a­tions

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