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What You Need to Know About Aegis Ashore Romania

May 11, 2016 at 2:47 PM UTC
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

The Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System is part of the European Phased Adapted Approach, designed to protect European NATO allies, and U.S. deployed forces in the region, against current and emerging ballistic threats from the Middle East.

Q1. What is Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Site-Romania or Aegis Ashore?

A1. The Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System (AAMDS) has many of the same components used at sea on guided-missile destroyers and cruisers, but has been adapted to perform the ballistic missile defense mission from land. In this case, Aegis ashore is in Deveselu, Romania. It’s part of the European Phased Adapted Approach (EPAA). EPAA is designed to protect European NATO allies, and U.S. deployed forces in the region, against current and emerging ballistic threats from the Middle East. In general, the ballistic missile threat to the region is growing both quantitatively and qualitatively. The EPAA’s purpose is to help deter future conflicts, primarily those from Iran and other nefarious non-state actors – and to defend ourselves and our NATO allies should deterrence fail.

Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Complex Romania

Q2. What does the U.S. Navy mean when it says AAMDS-Romania is “certified” and why is it a big deal?

A2.AAMDS-Romania will have successfully completed operational validation as part of the EPAA Phase II architecture. This was accomplished through participation in the Cross area of responsibility Air and Missile Defense Exercise (CAMDEX) 2016. It is significant as CAMDEX 2016 is a unifying concept for exercise events designed to assist NATO in preparing for their initial operational capability (IOC) of AAMDS-Romania.
 

Q3. So what’s the purpose of missile defense?

A3. Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) is the capability to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles in flight, destroying the warhead and any potential weapons of mass destruction it may be carrying.

  • We remain very concerned about Iran’s ballistic missile program. As long as Iran continues to develop and deploy ballistic missiles, the United States will work with our allies and partners to defend against this threat, this is the primary purpose of EPAA and Aegis Ashore.
  • President Obama has publicly stated our commitment to protecting the U.S., U.S. deployed forces, and our European allies against the growing threat of ballistic missiles. In September 2009, on the recommendation of the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the President announced the EPAA for missile defense to provide that protection. The EPAA is intended to be the U.S. voluntary national contribution to NATO BMD for protecting NATO European populations, territories and forces, including Romania, and will augment the defense of the United States.
  • The Aegis Ashore site in Romania is an important step in our efforts to protect against the growing threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles of increasingly greater ranges, lethality, and sophistication. The Aegis Ashore site in Romania provides a defensive capability to protect NATO European territories, populations and forces against ballistic missiles.

Q4. How does it work?

A4. The land-based ballistic missile defense capability will use a defensive system almost identical to that used on U.S. Navy Aegis-capable guided-missile destroyers and cruisers. The system is designed to detect, track, engage, and destroy ballistic missiles in flight.

  • If launched, the interceptor flies out above the atmosphere and destroys the enemy ballistic missile warhead in flight.
  • SM-3 missiles are defensive weapons. They carry no explosive warheads of any type, and rely on their kinetic energy to collide with and destroy incoming enemy ballistic missile warheads.
  • The system in Romania will be connected to other EPAA missile defense assets to maximize their effectiveness.
  • Missile defense and the EPAA assets are strictly defensive in nature. The U.S. interceptors are not armed with an explosive warhead of any kind. Instead, the interceptor collides with the threat warhead and relies on energy derived from the collision of two objects moving at incredible speeds to neutralize the threat. The interceptors have no capability as an offensive weapon.

Q5. What country poses a ballistic missile threat to Europe?

A5. The proliferation of missile technology and non-state actors willing to use violence to achieve their goals means that a missile attack could originate from many places. However, we remain very concerned about Iran’s ballistic missile program. As long as Iran continues to develop and deploy ballistic missiles, the United States will work with our allies and partners to defend against this threat.

  • We will also continue to take other actions to counter Iran’s ballistic missile program, including through regional security initiatives with our partners in the region, sanctions, export controls, and the 34-country Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
  • BMD is one response the U.S. is taking to address the threat from the Middle East region posed by ballistic missiles of increasing range, lethality and sophistication, as well as nuclear proliferation concerns. The threat to U.S. forces and European allies and partners is growing. Improved NATO BMD capability and capacity is a deterrent to such threats.

Q6. Is Aegis Ashore – Romania (or EPAA in general) a threat to Russia?

A6. No. This system is defensive in nature and not a threat to Russia. Russian cooperation is important for regional stability and global security. We have also consistently reassured Russia that our missile defenses in Europe are not capable of intercepting Russian ICBMs.  Our limited missile defense capabilities in Europe are not designed to engage the large and sophisticated Russian strategic nuclear forces.

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