NATO Will Switch On Its (Tiny) Missile Shield in May


New Member
Mar 31, 2010

BRUSSELS, Belgium — This is what years of development, revamp and acrimony have yielded: Starting in May, Europe will have the beginning of an operational shield against ballistic missiles, courtesy of NATO.

The system will be modest at first, not much more than SM-3 interceptor missiles aboard the U.S.S. Monterrey, a ship enabled with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system and stationed in the Mediterranean. It'll be aided by an early-warning radar system Turkey's hosting at its Kurecik base.

But together, they form what a senior NATO official told reporters on Wednesday was an "interim capability" to stop incoming missiles — the first, ever, in Europe. NATO will formally announce it in May at its big summit in Chicago, and when defense chiefs meet here on Thursday, they'll get updated on its progress.

There's a long, long way to go in what the Obama administration calls its "phased adaptive" approach to the Euro missile shield. The SM-3 interceptors aboard the Monterrey — the first of many such ships headed to the Med — can only stop short- to intermediate-range missiles. (NATO would not disclose the exact range for the "interim" shield.) It will take years to add even the entire easternmost parts of the continent to the shield — the "phased" part of "phased adaptive" — as its first ground-based anti-missile missiles, which will be hosted in Romania, won't be operational until 2015. And the shield won't be able to stop intercontinental ballistic missiles until 2020, if everything goes according to plan.

Still, it's something. The Bush administration pushed for a ground-based missile shield on the continent early in its tenure, primarily aimed at blocking incoming Russian missiles. The Obama administration transformed the plan into one based, at first, at sea, maneuverable to address missile threats from different countries as they emerged — the "adaptive" part of "phased adaptive." It was based on the idea that Iran is the greatest missile threat to Europe right now, not Russia, but it got Obama slammed for allegedly selling out Eastern Europe to Moscow while failing to secure Russia's acquiescence to the shield.

And it also might not work. NATO officials here are big on portraying the SM-3 as a proven technology. (It's the weapon that shot down a rogue satellite in 2008, for example.) But an inquiry by two MIT and Cornell scientists found that "in eight or nine of the 10 SM-3 intercept tests from 2002 to 2009," the interceptor failed to destroy an oncoming warhead. The Pentagon has rejected this claim.

NATO also wouldn't discuss how Iran would react to an announcement of an infant missile shield. "It's aimed at incoming missiles, not a [specific] country," said the senior NATO official, who would not brief reporters on the record. But the White House explicitly predicated its entire phased-adaptive approach on blocking Iranian missiles — and Iran, which last week got hit with a European oil embargo, is still making threats to close a crucial waterway.

But announcing the shield is less about immediately defeating specific threats than a "political declaration," says Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO's secretary general. In other words, it ends a debate, one focused as much on alliance members as those who threaten it. NATO argued internally for over a decade about whether such a system would even be desirable. But now, it's sending the message that a European missile shield is an irreversible fact that missile-wielding adversaries have to adjust to.



Senior Member
May 25, 2009
WoW. We will get protection against ICBMs by 2017, if DRDO has it's way. Quite an achievement for us if we achieve the same in that short time.


DFI Buddha
Senior Member
Aug 21, 2010
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WoW. We will get protection against ICBMs by 2017, if DRDO has it's way. Quite an achievement for us if we achieve the same in that short time.
What are you talking about? Where is DRDO in this picture?

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