United States considering missile defense alternatives
The budget office of the US Congress has released a report on missile defense deployment options in Europe. This is the first document to officially consider three alternative options to the Pentagon’s well-known plan for ten American interceptor missiles in underground silos in Poland and a powerful radar in the Czech Republic.
The budget office of the US Congress has released a report on missile defense deployment options in Europe.
This is the first document to officially consider three alternative options to the Pentagon’s well-known plan for ten American interceptor missiles in underground silos in Poland and a powerful radar in the Czech Republic.
Firstly, the USA could deploy SM-3 anti-missiles (ship-based Standard system) on US Navy Idjis ships. The ships would be based off the coast of Romania, southern Italy, and Poland. Guidance and targeting would be done with the assistance of radars in Azerbaijan and Qatar. This is the most expensive option; it would cost the USA $18-22 billion. The Pentagon’s plan for Poland and the Czech Republic would cost $9-13 billion.
Secondly, the Congress office considered the possibility of deploying SM-3 anti-missiles on mobile delivery systems, based at existing US Air Force bases – Ramstein (Germany) and Injirlik (Turkey). As in the first option, this would also require building radars in Azerbaijan and Qatar. Both options could be implemented by 2015. The plan for Poland and the Czech Republic could be completed by 2013.
The third option would entail equipping mobile delivery systems at Ramstein and Injirlik with kinetic anti-missiles. These would also be guided by radars in Azerbaijan and Qatar. But this project would probably take until 2018 to complete. Deploying anti-missiles in Germany and Turkey would cost $9-14 billion.
In terms of defensive resources, the Congress report says that none of these options would provide complete protection for Washington’s European allies against an Iranian missile threat in the future. But the proposed alternative options would be better for European security interests – especially for south-eastern Europe. In terms of defense for the USA itself, none of the alternative projects would provide as much extra defense for America against the potential Iranian threat as deploying missile defense elements in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Defense analyst Major General Vladimir Belous (retired) told us: “Any missile defense system can only be effective if it enables missiles to be shot down in the active stage of their trajectory, when their engines are firing and emitting a powerful flare. The option of anti-missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic poses the greatest danger for Russia.” Belous emphasizes that if anti-missiles are deployed on Idjis ships, the USA would station those ships off the coast of Poland – very close to Russia. The Ramstein base is 220 kilometers from the former border between East and West Germany – a fairly long way from Russian territory, thus reducing the likelihood of Russian missiles being intercepted in the active stage. However, says Belous, the Americans are completing tests of lasers installed on Boeing 747 jets. This weaponry is capable of countering missiles before their warheads separate. That is why the base in Germany, which could host several Boeings, figures in two of the alternative plans.
Belous says he is surprised to hear that the Americans are thinking of using the Gabala radar in Azerbaijan: “Does that mean they have already discussed this with the government of Azerbaijan?” The report notes that if the Pentagon’s plan goes ahead, a radar in Azerbaijan may be required to supplement the radar in the Czech Republic.
According to our sources in the Russian military, all of the proposed options pose a threat to Russia’s security, since they would all restrict the capabilities of Russian strategic missiles. Russian military analysts say that the deployment of such systems would create obstacles to delivering a retaliatory strike if necessary. Moreover, according to the report, if any Iranian missiles are indeed fired at the USA, most of the interceptions would happen over Russia, Scandinavia, or the North Pole.