Aegis Coming Ashore for Europe’s Missile Defense

Aegis Ashore test site dedication brings European Phase Adaptive Approach closer to reality


file The U.S. Navy deployed the Aegis-equipped USS Monterey to the Mediterranean in March as part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach's first phase for missile defense approved by NATO.

The Aegis Combat System has protected U.S. Navy ships for decades. Recently, it took a giant step closer to defending Europe with the dedication of the Aegis Ashore testing facility site at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Hawaii.

"There are people in the world who would harm and kill us," U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye said at dedication event. "We are not testing to kill, but to defend. ... I pray the product of testing will not be used, but will be a deterrent for those who would harm us."

The Aegis Ashore program – which uses the shipboard Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system – stands at the center of the second phase of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), the U.S. government's plan for defending the continent from ballistic missiles. The Aegis Ashore test facility is scheduled to open within the next two years.

According to Rear Admiral Dixon Smith, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, Aegis Ashore systems will be installed in Romania in 2015 and in Poland in 2018 after they are tested at PMRF.

Aegis Ashore brings to inland areas the same proven, low-risk weapon system as Lockheed Martin's "Aegis Afloat," which has continuously evolved over the past 40 years to meet emerging threats.

With minimal, if any, development needed to establish an on-shore system, Aegis Ashore fully supports the United States' desire to conduct new missions with existing capabilities. In addition, an established logistics infrastructure makes Aegis Ashore an even more affordable solution to missile defense.

The Navy deployed the Aegis-equipped USS Monterey to the Mediterranean in March as part of the EPAA's first phase approved by NATO. In April, the Aegis BMD system demonstrated its "launch on remote" capability using BMD 3.6.1 and supported by the THAAD radar to prove EPAA Phase 1 architecture and system capability against intermediate range ballistic missiles for the first time. This marked the longest range engagement of any U.S. ballistic missile defense system element to date.

Posted September 13, 2011