Europe is Getting An American Anti-Missile System That Might Not Work

Michael Peck


Can it be fixed?

Europe is Getting An American Anti-Missile System That Might Not Work

America’s missile defense umbrella is supposed to protect Europe from Iranian (and perhaps Russian) ballistic missiles.

But vital tests haven’t been performed, and there are delays in building missile defense sites in Poland. All of which means that the anti-missile shield over Europe may be leaky.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency has conducted only seven out of eleven planned tests in 2018, or just 64 percent, according to a Government Accountability Office study. At the same time, problems with contractors have delayed construction of an anti-missile system in Poland by eighteen months.

Begun by the Obama administration, the U.S. missile defense effort in Europe—the European Phased Adaptive Approach—has three parts. Phase I, completed in 2012, comprises a missile defense radar in Turkey and command center in Germany, supporting U.S. Navy ships equipped with the naval version of the Aegis missile defense system. Phase II was completed in 2016, when an Aegis Ashore site in Romania became operational. The delay has been in phase III, in which an Aegis Ashore site in Poland was supposed to be ready.

The Aegis Ashore sites in Romania and Poland are land-based versions of the naval Aegis, each consisting of a powerful SPY-1 radar and twenty-four SM-3 interceptor rockets. Aegis Ashore is aimed at stopping short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Iran has built an arsenal of ballistic missiles, including intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) that could—in theory—be armed with nuclear warheads if Iran develops them.

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