By Ann Roosevelt

The United States and Romania yesterday said they jointly selected the Deveselu Air Base near Caracal, Romania to host a U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) that employs the SM-3 interceptor, the Aegis Ashore System.

In Bucharest, Ellen Tauscher, under secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, said: “Our two countries are working together on some of today’s most pressing security challenges, such as Afghanistan and Libya. The announcement we have made today is a very important milestone for our two countries and for NATO. It provides Romania with a leading role in NATO’s new missile defense capabilities. This cooperation demonstrates how our two governments are working together to make NATO’s landmark Lisbon decision on missile defense a reality.”

The site also provides new opportunities for the air base and surrounding area, Tauscher said.

The deployment to Romania is anticipated to occur in 2015 as part of the second phase of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA)–the U.S. national contribution to a NATO missile defense architecture, welcomed at the November 2010 NATO Summit in Lisbon.

The EPAA is to protect NATO European territories and populations, and augment protection of the United States, against the increasing threats posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles from the Middle East.

In 2009, President Barack Obama said the decision to adopt the EPAA would provide “stronger, smarter, and swifter” defenses of American forces and American allies. EPAA is more comprehensive than prior programs and deploys proven and cost-effective capabilities.

EPAA Phase 1-2011 addresses regional ballistic missile threats to European allies and U.S. deployed personnel and their families by deploying a land-based AN/TPY-2 radar and existing Aegis BMD-capable ships equipped with proven SM-3 Block IA interceptors.

In March, the United States announced the deployment of the USS Monterey (CG-61) to the Mediterranean to begin a sustained deployment of Aegis BMD-capable ships in support of the EPAA.

In April, a successful shootdown of a ballistic missile target over the Pacific by the Navy’s premiere ship-based ballistic missile defense system aboard the USS O’Kane (DDG-77), MDA cleared a major milestone for EPAA (Defense Daily, April 18). The exercise demonstrated the necessary capabilities to support the first phase of EPAA for BMD, an MDA statement said. The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System has been proven effective through repeated testing.

Phase 2-2015–After testing, a SM-3 interceptor (Block IB) will be deployed. A land-based SM-3 ballistic missile defense interceptor site– Deveselu Air Base–defends against short- and medium-range missile threats. Since 2002, the system has been successful in 21 of 25 flight tests with the SM-3 interceptor.

MDA has awarded a total of $127 million in three separate contracts to Boeing [BA], Lockheed Martin [LMT] and Raytheon [RTN] to begin conceptual design and development work on the agency’s next-generation of SM-3 missiles (Defense Daily, April 11).

Phase 3-2018–After development and testing are complete, a more advanced SM-3 interceptor (Block IIA) will be deployed and a second land-based SM-3 site will be added. Poland agreed in 2009 to host this site to counter short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missile threats. In July 2010, the United States and Poland signed the Protocol amending the August 2008 Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement to provide the basis for Poland to host the land-based SM-3 site. On April 22, 2011, the Polish signed legislation ratifying the agreement.

Phase 4-2020–After development and testing are complete, the SM-3 Block IIB interceptor will be deployed to improve the ability to counter medium- and intermediate-range missiles and potential future ICBM threats to the United States from the Middle East.

The Deveselu air base site will house the U.S. BMD site on about 430 acres, with a radar and associated Aegis command, control, and communications suite. Separately, there will be a number of launch modules containing SM-3 interceptors. Those SM-3 interceptors based in Romania will not be used for flight tests, and will be launched only in defense against an actual attack.

Starting in 2014, the Aegis Ashore configuration of the BMD system will be thoroughly tested at a specialized test center at the Pacific Missile Range Facility.

An estimated 200 military, government civilians, and support contractors will operate the U.S. facility at the site.