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The NATO missile defence program (Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defence, now BMD) was created on the premises of a common assessment of the ballistic threat by NATO countries. This assessment is to be periodically updated so that the NATO missile defence architecture is consistent with the actual threat.
In the meantime, the crisis in Syria has demonstrated the reality of a common usage of conventional air and ballistic threats; more than 500 short range ballistic missiles (SRBM) as well as conventional bombs were fired against soldiers and the population in the Syrian territory. Furthermore, events in Yemen showed that even non-state actors are now able to acquire and use SRBM in addition to the more accessible short range rockets.
This obviously demonstrates that even if the ballistic threat assessment can be a subject of debate depending on different evaluations of technological advances and political will in rogue countries, the use of relatively unsophisticated short range ballistic missiles has become an indisputable reality in current conflicts. Combined with the proliferation of cheap and accurate air breathing threats, they allow the opponent to deny areas of operations for allied military forces.
As the crises areas become closer to NATO territories, there must therefore be a consensus on this air and missile threat and on the necessary defence. Add to this a noticeable development of cruise missiles around the world and the need for each nation to protect its airspace and ensure its territorial sovereignty, then an integrated air and missile defence (IAMD) becomes an obvious solution to meet today’s priorities.
It seems therefore appropriate that our Missile Defence challenges should now be considered within the wider frame of IAMD, that is why we decided to extend our Missile Defence conference spectrum to Air Defence and rename it “3AF Integrated Air and Missile Defence conference”.
The theme fits with NATO developments where the BMD architecture will be part of the NATINAMDS (NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System) to implement the NIAMD (NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence) capacity. It fits as well with current developments in NATO countries, where dual systems are being developed or procured:
Turkey and Poland have decided to acquire national Air & Missile defence capabilities. France and Italy have started the modernization of the SAMP/T system fitted with a new Aster B1NT missile and an improved Fire control system.
Germany decided to develop the TLVS to replace its ageing Patriot systems, leveraging on the MEADS program.
It fits finally with developments in the rest of the world faced with similar threats:
- Israel is improving its layered defence, with the David’s Sling and Arrow 3 approaching Initial Operational Capability (IOC).
- The Gulf states have already bought or are considering the acquisition of air and missile defence capabilities
- In Asia, Japan is strengthening its missile defences while South Korea is considering developing the LSAM system and will host a THAAD
- India is developing its own upper layer capability in complement to the lower layer dual-capability already
More than ever international cooperation is of great value to share the costs and benefits of these complex systems, where the right balance between national industries shall be found, leveraging the respective skills and technologies against the available budgets.
The largest scale of such cooperation is probably in NATO, where the need for cooperation in Missile Defence is central and recurrent since the NATO summit in Lisbon. The 2014 NATO summit in Newport invited once again in its conclusions the nations to a global interoperability initiative through multinational cooperation, including with partner nations outside NATO. A renewed call to invest into defence was also made. The BMD program is progressing, with an IOC that has just been declared at the Warsaw summit.
The US EPAA, that will form the basis of the NATO architecture, has completed Phase 2 at the end of 2015 with the Aegis ashore deployment in Romania. European projects will complete the US EPAA and the NATO already existing dual systems. Long range ground based and space based sensors will augment early warning and tracking capabilities to cue weapon systems, while lower layer systems, weapons and sensors, possibly with some future extended capacity will complement the upper layer and counter new manoeuvring ballistic or cruise missiles, even hypersonic future threat. NATO is also considering further avenues of interoperability like sensor to shooters and multisensor fire control networking to enhance the overall architecture effectiveness.
Witness and actor of these events gathered at the 11th 3AF Missile defence confe- rence in Barcelona in June 2015. During 4 days, the missile defence community coming from NATO and 13 other countries – among which the USA, Europe (France, Germany, Netherlands,…), Israel, South Korea and Turkey – shared and discussed missile defences challenges around the globe, reinforced ties and explored new ideas to promote missile defence advances.
The 12th 3AF Integrated Air and Missile Defence conference will take place in Stockholm, Sweden 29-31 May 2017. It will build on the previous editions to address both the BMD and IAMD capability developments in and outside Eu- rope. The following questions will in particular be raised:
- What is the current threat landscape and how is it likely to evolve?
- How will NATO build on the IOC to integrate EPAA and other national contributions into the architecture?
- Could there be a joint European effort, fostered by NATO’s smart defence initiative or multinational cooperation? What will be the role of European industry? Is mul- ti-sensor and sensor to shooter cooperation a winning theme for the “smart and collective” cooperation? Can we work out common standards?
- What is the level of integration required between BMD and Air Defence and how does it translate into the NATO CONOPS and BMC3I Systems? What lessons from the US and Israeli developments can be applied?
- How will the situation evolve between NATO and its partners and neighbours?
- How will IAMD developments across the globe affect the technological landscape? The competitive balance?
- What role will directed energy weapons play in the future?
- As space is the battle environment against long range ballistic threat, can space surveillance capabilities support BMD and vice-versa?
- How can the return of experience from the various developments of systems and technologies by the US, Europe, the Middle East and Asia be shared and common efforts be initiated?
Once again, a mix of technical and non-technical, contributed and invited papers, and status of the many existing IAMD programmes will be presented, including VIPs’ talks and specific plenary sessions. Sponsored by industry, the conference includes an exhibition where companies will showcase their systems and technologies. It is an unrivalled opportunity to meet customers, suppliers and decision makers, to ex- change facts and opinions, to initiate and develop business and to listen to papers presented by world experts on IAMD challenges.
We are looking forward to meeting you in May 2017 and to your contribution to our continuing dialogue!
Yannick DEVOUASSOUX and Luc DINI
12th International Conference on Integrated Air and Missile Defence
Programme Committee Chairmen