HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The head of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) last week said the agency is now confident the Poland Aegis Ashore site will be operational by next year.
“So now we have a very high confidence schedule…now we can say we’re very confident where we are in construction, we’re very happy with the move aboard for the Navy sailors that are on board. They’re living in the facilities there…So we’re in a great place to get to that delivery to complete it in ‘23.” Vice Adm. Jon Hill, director of the MDA, said during a Defense News
webcast recorded here during the annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium and broadcast on Friday.
Last year, Rear Adm. Tom Druggan, Program Executive Officer for Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense at MDA, said the site was moving forward with “good momentum,” and expected it to be operational by the end of 2022, followed by turnover and transition work to the Navy, European Command, and then with NATO (Defense Daily, Nov. 22, 2021).
The second Aegis Ashore site in Europe is at Naval Support Facility Redzikowo, Poland, following the first site made operational in Romania. The main agency supporting construction is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The site was first scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2018, but it has had repeated delays the Defense Department has attributed to military construction issues, bad seasonal weather, worse than expected performance from the construction contractor and then COVID-19 pandemic delays on top of that.
In 2020, Hill said the construction contractor was having problems completing what he called the last technical mile, which includes things like auxiliary controls, heating, power and cooling (Defense Daily, Feb. 2, 2020).
Then in 2021 he said those issues were related to adding building automation into the construction site (Defense Daily, June 25).
While the site looked complete a year ago with the radars assembled and completed, inside cable trays were not complete and connected yet, Hill said.
The radars were put in place when the rest of the work was not done yet as a “forcing function” to compel the completion of the interior of the deckhouse.
“That forces you to get the cable arrays in and it gets you ready to move in the Aegis equipment.”
MDA also took all the Aegis equipment out of storage on site, conducted end-to-end checks, signal checks, and made some obsolescence upgrades “just to prove that it was ready to go because we did not want to be the long pole once we declared construction was complete.”
Hill said over the last six months MDA, along with the Army Corps of Engineers and the construction company in Poland, installed the Aegis equipment.
“It’s going through system testing right now – that’s not live fire testing, it’s different. So what we have to do is go through and make sure we can capture signals coming all the way through the radar, fire control system can do its job and signal over to the launchers and all that. So we’re going through that now,” he said last week.
Hill also asserted that by the next symposium in August 2023 “I think we’ll be in a great place.”