Integrating Missile Defense (Part Two)


Regional Missile Defense: The Challenge of Crafting Integrated Missile Defense in NATO and Other Allied Regions (Part Two)

By Ambassador (Ret.) Jon D. Glassman, Director for Government Policy, Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems

11/05 /2010 – The first part of this report discussed the special characteristics of regional missile defense, emphasizing that the requirements for such defense go far beyond the deployment and support of sensors and shooters and their connection into networks. In Part Two, the author offers potential solutions to the challenges faced by the NATO allies and other international partners in creating truly integral regional missile defenses.

NATO, at its impending Lisbon summit, will decide whether to embrace ballistic missile defense of its member nations as an alliance mission. It will also consider whether to extend its capability against medium and intermediate range upper tier threats, to enhance strategic awareness via the Bi-Strategic Command Automated Information System (Bi-SC AIS), and to install theater missile defense (TMD) enhancements to NATO’s Air Command and Control System (ACCS).

Should a NATO decision be made either to assume the homeland defense mission or study it further, the path will be opened to elevate NATO’s incipient ALTBMD (Active Layer Ballistic Missile Defense) command, control, communications network linking allied missile defense assets to a new task broader than simple defense of deployed forces.

The currently funded initial capability against short/medium range threats against NATO deployed forces could be expanded to a capability including upper tier defense against medium/intermediate threats both to deployed forces (and implicitly their overseas surroundings) as well as to the NATO homelands.

The unfunded budget for the combined upper tier and NATO territorial defense would total in the range of 485-540 million euros (circa 400 million euros for upper tier integration and 83-139 million euros for extension to NATO territorial defense).

The NATO November decisions may also provide a path forward under the enlarged NATO mission for:

  • Installation of strategic-level missile defense situation awareness and planning components into NATO’s Bi-Strategic Command Automated Information Systems (Bi-SC AIS) — a comprehensive networked services capability that, among other things, will provide NATO ALTBMD C2 connectivity, and
  • Theater missile defense (TMD) enhancement of NATO’s Air Command and Control System (ACCS—the alliance’s air C2 capability that combines air defense with offensive air mission planning.)
  • The ACCS TMD enhancement would provide strategic, operational, and tactical-level missile defense situation awareness and planning plus tactical tasking, based on US-provided SEWS (Shared Early Warning System) space and US and European radar data.

Creating NATO Budgetary Efficiencies

Given the likely budgetary pressure, there could be good reason for NATO to search for funding efficiencies — avoiding duplication with, and building upon, US programs.

There is no reason that a NATO-focused coalition version of the US Missile Defense Agency’s Command, Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC) system–now at the US EUCOM Gateway at Ramstein Air Operations Center (AOC)–could not provide user-appropriate situation awareness services at all NATO missile defense levels (on the model of NATO’s Afghan Mission Network).

(Credit: (Credit: SLD)

Additionally, the US Army Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) design to knit together “any sensor and any shooter” (including the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) that may replace Patriot and Hawk in the European theater) could serve as an integration template–expanding from an initial tie-up of US Army, Dutch, and German Patriots plus US THAAD to encompass other European naval and ground sensors and shooters. This could also provide a foundation for a reinforcement concept based on movement and seamless insertion of THAADs from the United States to Europe, as needed.

Such a NATO build-out starting from the US baseline could benefit from the IBCS work with the US Navy to develop a Joint Track Manager function that would link Navy Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) tracks with those being worked by US Army and Marine radars.

The combination of the C2BMC battle management component focused on forward-deployed high capability Missile Defense Agency X band radars (TPY 2) and broadly-encompassing IBCS sensor (US S and X and allied S and L band radars) and weapon integration to include battle management could provide to the US and NATO initially (and later other regional groupings) the ability to manage quickly and efficiently their total collective sensor and shooter resources during an engagement.

In the NATO context, this would provide the detailed battle management functionality now sketched out in the NATO ACCS tactical tasking component. The goal of speed and optimal utilization could drive other decisions that would incentivize cooperation and continuing investment.

Integrating the Space and Air Layers

While discussion to date within NATO, Israel, the Gulf, and the Far East has centered on deployment and acquisition of ground and maritime sensors and shooters, the integration of   space and air layers will move up the agenda as operations become the focus.


Engagement by senior civilian and military leaders has to begin prior to hostilities.

Diplomatic actions, defensive and offensive force deployment/readiness postures, and combat authorities/rules need to be decided—informed by space ISR indications and warning and space surveillance.

  • Possession by some allies/partners of electro-optical and radar ground surveillance satellites and space tracking and imaging radars and telescopes permits decisions based on shared facts.
  • Allied/partner investment in space ISR and space surveillance could be seen as a collective good. Appropriate US tech transfer and other incentives might accelerate restoration and expansion of the Japanese reconnaissance constellation and encourage European programs such as MUSIS designed to share information from French, German, and Italian imaging satellites (Helios, SAR-Lupe, and Cosmo-Sky Med).
  • Short ballistic trajectories require early detection and tracking. This can be facilitated by overhead early warning and precision cueing. New architectures providing direct downlink to US assets from US DSP/SBIRS early warning satellites, coupled with lower latency Shared Early Warning System service to allies/partners, would enlarge the battle space permitting more effective, layered response to high-volume challenges.
  • Allied/partner nations—moving beyond imaging—are now seeking their own early warning satellites—France has the Spirale demonstration program and Japan wants to proceed in the same direction. Dispersed early warning capability could become problematical, however, if confusion is generated over the fact of a launch or track coordinates. At a minimum, US-ally/partner certification of initial and continuing non-US early warning performance appears essential. Additionally, US tech transfer policies need to be reviewed to ensure maximum influence in maintaining common, mutually supportive systems and encouraging allied investment to remediate early warning gaps.
  • Additionally, allied industrial participation and investment could be encouraged in the envisaged US PTSS satellite constellation—given its importance in providing ascent phase, mid-course tracking to permit early and successful intercepts for the stressed regional defenses.


  • The forthcoming global deployment of large unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) such as Global Hawk, BAMS, and Euro Hawk, joined with existing manned air-to-ground surveillance (AGS) platforms such as Joint STARS and ASTOR, and Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft such as AWACS, 737 MESA, and E2C/D, could be used to enhance regional ballistic and cruise missile tracking—given an appropriate sensor and networking strategy.
  • This could come from building out from the US Missile Defense Agency’s ABIRS (Airborne Infra-Red System) concept of UAV-mounted infra-red sensors and the future overseas deployment of US and allied/partner F-35 stealth fighters equipped with advanced AESA (Active Electronically-Scanned Array) radar and the Distributed Aperture System (DAS).
  • With a demonstrated range exceeding 800 miles with full spherical coverage, multiple DAS on F-35s and US and allied Global Hawk, Euro Hawk, BAMS, and other UAVs, fighters, and AEW/AGS aircraft, could be meshed together in ad hoc networks through secure data links using software being developed in the Missile Defense Agency’s EC2BMC (Enhanced C2BMC) program. This would allow allies/partners to leverage already committed investments to increase missile defense performance and validate its utility against threats in the ascent and terminal phases.

Spurring Investment

A decision to create US-allied/partner cooperative space and air ISR, early warning and tracking, space situation awareness, and air missile tracking capabilities, plus supporting data links and ground processing infrastructure, could provide the foundational elements for successful defense of regions with tight timelines. These programs, in turn, could constitute   economically- and technologically-stimulating activities for defense industries in fiscally-challenged states.

Should a coalition of the willing emerge in regions with appropriate industrial capabilities such as Europe, the Far East or Israel, an incentive for national investment could be created through establishment of regional missile defense investment funds permitting 100% return to national industry in exchange for invested national funds.

(Previous national return rates proffered in related fields have been 70% for NATO Air-to-Ground Surveillance and 60% for the subsequently-cancelled Kinetic Energy Interceptor.)

Additionally, just as Japan and the US are cooperating in the development of the SM 3, Block IIA interceptor to defend against IRBMs, foreign content could be contemplated for the planned SM3, Block IIB planned to provide early intercept of ICBM launches. Such foreign content would synergize with the effort to encourage allies/partners to join in/expand their space and air activities enabling early intercept to occur.

European, Japanese, Korean and other efforts to develop indigenous interceptors could also be encouraged. While the US directly supports Israeli interceptors such as Arrow 2 and 3 and David’s Sling, non-budgetary support can be provided by developing alliance/regional requirements for maritime and ground deployment of future systems if/when they acquire BMD capability, eg, the Aster/SAMP-T/PAAMS upgrade program and Exoguard in Europe/Persian Gulf and CEAFAR/CEAMOUNT in Asia/Middle East (Australia has still not embraced territorial BMD).

(Credit:(Credit: SLD)

Coordinating Operations

The cueing of sensors and shooters to allow timely interception is a requirement for success in regional missile defense. But it creates only a possibility for success–not a certainty –since misallocation of sensor and shooter resources or the sheer weight of incoming numbers in a constricted time period could spell defeat.

The issue of numbers was raised implicitly in a June 3, 2010 US Air Force memo signed by the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the US Air Force. It reaffirmed the joint doctrine that offensive action to destroy and disrupt enemy missile sites, airfields, and command-and-control infrastructure had to be fully integrated with air and ground efforts to defeat incoming enemy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles. Defense was inseparable from offense.

This defense-offense fusion generates the requirement for political and military operational coordination with allied and partner air forces and with US and allied navies possessing air and offensive ballistic and cruise missile capability. The precedent of coalition air and tactical missile operations in Afghanistan and Iraq supported by multinational ISR assets is helpful in this regard.

Now with the incorporation of the Missile Defense Agency’s C2BMC situation awareness, planning and limited battle management tool into Air and Space Operations Centers (the Air Force integrates offensive and defensive counter-air/missile activities in each Combatant Command), the stage is set for US Air Force, Navy, and Army and allied/partner determination of functions and procedures for executing an integrated offense/defense Concept of Operations (CONOPS).

The defensive part of this CONOPS will be complicated by the fact that the US Army and Navy and allies/partners control the shooters—not the Air Force. Above and beyond this force structure issue, each of the shooter owners is mobile and has intense self-interest in preservation of valuable assets critical to the fight beyond missile defense.

The shifting preoccupations on the defensive side as attacks vary in mode and intensity at particular locations calls forth the need for sensor and shooter resource allocation to ensure that limited assets are not frittered away for less than optimal campaign purposes. The execution of this allocation through centralized control is complicated or made impossible by the self-preservation issue, national sovereignty considerations, and communications survival and latency problems.

The solution to this acute dilemma resides in joint and allied/partner acceptance of a modus operandi that can be executed on a decentralized basis. The nature of this resource allocation solution will be both technically complex and difficult to negotiate. Work toward it can begin through scenario-based simulation and wargaming conducted by regional authorities. The coming inauguration of a regional IAMD Center of Excellence in the UAE offers a potential venue for such activity.

Additionally, STRATCOM’S NIMBLE TITAN international BMD wargaming series and the Netherlands’ technically–focused Joint Project Optical Windmill offer opportunities for the development of political-military and warfighting techniques relevant to resource allocation management—the ultimate key to successful regional missile defense.


[1] The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of neither the Northrop Grumman Corporation, nor the U.S. Government.