The Poland Aegis Ashore site is expected to be operational by the end of 2022, the program executive for Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense at the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said last week.
Rear Adm. Tom Druggan said the Poland site is making progress but acknowledged it was a “bad news story in terms of we have been delayed. And my part, which is to install the Aegis Weapon System, has been delayed as we work the military construction with our contractors. We have been behind, we are behind given the original schedule, no question about that.”
“The good news is we’re getting the quality we want for a facility that’s going to be there 50 to 75 years. And we now have the right management in place in order to move ahead and complete this. We have good momentum now,” Druggan continued.
The second Aegis Ashore facility, at Naval Support Facility Redzikowo, Poland, was initially planned to be delivered by the end of 2018. However, various military construction issues, bad seasonal weather, worse than expected performance from the construction contractor, and COVID delays have pushed it back repeatedly to late 2022.
In 2020, MDA Director Vice. Adm. Jon Hill said the construction contractor was having problems with the last technical mile including auxiliary controls, heating, power, cooling and those things that feed a combat system (Defense Daily, Feb. 2, 2020).
Then, last June, Hill elaborated the delays were especially related to issues with adding building automation on the construction side (Defense Daily, June 25).
Druggan reiterated the delay time has not been entirely wasted. Last summer, MDA took the Aegis Weapon System out of its boxes and containers and put the system together except for the antennas.
“We energized it and the equipment had been in the containers for awhile. We found some issues, good news is we fixed them, and then we did an upgrade which is saving time from a future availability. So that system is actually our most upgraded system today ready to be installed.”
Druggan said MDA has installed the SPY radar arrays, antennas on the deckhouse, putting the backbone behind it, and has installed some Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) systems.
“We’re going to keep installing our pieces in parallel to the commissioning of all the industrial equipment – power, cooling, ventilation that’s going on on the construction side.”
Druggan said this parallel work is not normal and quickening the delayed timeline.
“Normally we wait until construction is complete, has a bow on it, and then we start our Aegis Weapon System installation and checkout. Made the decision long ago that we were not going to wait, we were going to do what we could, when we could, based on the conditions within the deckhouse.”
He said that has been a successful tactic so by the end of 2022 he expects them to have an operational site.
However, once the Aegis Ashore site is operational Druggan said there will be more work for turnover and transition to the Navy, then European Command and then with NATO.
“So, ‘22’ is going to be a very busy year and we’ll get to some of these turnover activities.”