Maritime Ballistic Missile Defense
Denmark has decided to contribute to the NATO BMD sys-tem with maritime ballistic missile defense sensor onboard a frigate. This white paper describes how the solution fits to the overall NATO BMD strategy, and explains why a maritime system is the most cost effective contribution.
The Ballistic Threat
In an ever-changing world, the threat from ballistic missiles is constantly increasing both in numbers and in complexity. As ground based air defense systems become more and more capable they are driving requirements for very expensive conventional aircraft, with capabilities such as stealth technology, to be able to penetrate them.
To break the cost curve in this arms race, several nations are looking to ballistic missiles as a cost effective way to project power in a regional and strategic context through the ability to attack from a distance. In addition, ballistic missiles offer the ability to deliver both conventional and weapons of mass de-struction.
During the past 5 years, the number of ballistic missiles in the world outside of the U.S., NATO, China, and Russia has risen by 1,200 reaching a total of 5,900.
Several of these are able to reach European and other NATO nations. The biggest numerical increase of ballistic missiles has been in the medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles while at the same time increasing the precision of these weapons, meaning that some of them are now able to hit within 50 meters from a distance of more than 2,000 kilometers.
Recognizing the increasing threat to NATO nations, the alliance adopted a change in its original theater ballistic missile defense plans in 2010 at the Lisbon summit.
Following this summit, NATO changed its focus from theater ballistic missile defense to territorial ballistic missile defense of European nations and populations. These changes fell in line with the new US European Phased Adaptive Approach, designed to counter the same threat to Europe in a phased approach.
The NATO ballistic missile defense (BMD) system is founded on voluntary national contributions with respect to sensors and weapon systems, whereas NATO common funding is used to develop and field the command and control structure and systems.
At the NATO summit in Wales in 2014, Denmark, as a respon-sible NATO member, announced its decision to upgrade at least one frigate of the IVER HUITFELDT anti-air warfare class, with a BMD sensor and to offer this newly developed capability to NATO as a relevant and robust addition to the system.
To prepare for the upgrade of the Danish frigates, Denmark also announced their intention to join international studies and forums, such as the maritime theater missile defense forum.
Offering a maritime ballistic missile defense capability to NATO is by far the best choice for Denmark, as it offers the most affordable, lowest risk and most flexible option.
Also, the frigate-based maritime ballistic missile defense capability, is the only choice for Denmark that offers a realistic pathway to a full intercept capability, should this ever be desired by the Danish politicians.
The three frigates of the IVER HUITFELDT class were commissioned into service in the Danish navy from January 2014 through March 2015.
Their main armament consists of the Thales NL SMART-L and APAR radars and the Lockheed Martin Mk. 41 Vertical Launch System, capable of firing the long-range missiles such as the Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) or SM-3.
As the leading Danish defense and aerospace company, Terma was selected to deliver our C-Flex command and control system to the frigates. The C-Flex system is also deployed throughout the rest of the Danish navy vessels. From the initial design phase, the frigates where prepared for a potential BMD mission. Therefore all the systems onboard the ship have a clear pathway to BMD functionality through upgrades or can easily be replaced with BMD capable systems.
Since 2004, Terma has been working in the BMD domain, through cooperation with international partners, studying the inherent BMD challenges, possible solutions and potential application of our capabilities in the command and control domain.
Through a significant investment in research and development we have built set of BMD features and functions, called BMD-Flex, that will make out the backbone of the upgrades to our existing C-Flex command and control system for the coming Danish maritime ballistic missile defense contribution to NATO.
Terma’s development of the BMD-Flex capability also included very extensive testing both in the NATO domain and as part of a US Missile Defense Agency Flight Test with live US assets from the European Phased Adaptive Approach.
Since the BMD mission was already considered in the design phase of the IVER HUITFELDT class frigates and several smart decisions were made with respect to which systems and sub-systems were deployed and integrated, the Danish maritime ballistic missile defense contribution to NATO will prove to be an affordable solution with low risk.
Having the IT infrastructure and major systems in place, with only minor upgrades required, will significantly reduce the cost compared to investment in a similar capability that currently does not exist in the Danish defense’s inventory or does not have a similar pathway to a ballistic missile defense capability.
The current activities being performed by the Danish defense, through participation in international studies and forums, will provide valuable information and knowledge about the maritime ballistic missile defense domain that will help to minimize the risk of the overall program.
Finally, Terma’s significant investment in the command and control features and functions will also help to lower the risk of this important program.
Flexible and Relevant
Once fielded and delivered, the Danish maritime ballistic missile defense capability will prove to be the most flexible option with regard to deployment possibilities. Being able to deploy under own steam, not requiring valuable air lift capabilities, the frigates are able to deploy in international waters, without having to negotiate difficult legal agreements with host nations, having to provide support etc.
While on maritime ballistic missile defense patrol the frigates will still maintain their full multi-mission capability, enabling them to perform secondary missions, such as anti-piracy or humanitarian missions.
The Danish decision to contribute to the NATO BMD system with a robust and relevant maritime ballistic missile defense sensor onboard an IVER HUITFELDT class frigate falls well in line with NATO’s decision to develop and field a ballistic missile defense system to defend European nations, populations and armed forces against the ever growing threat.
The maritime contribution will guarantee the most flexible and adaptable capability, that can easily go anywhere in the world defend deployed forces or population centers from rogue nations or non-state actors.