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Annual Ballistic Missile Defence Review

It Takes the Entire Ballistic Missile Defence Enterprise

This abridged article (for full article, please see MT #7/8-2018 available at the Space and Missile Defense (SMD) Symposium 2018 in Huntsville, AL/USA next week, or order here) highlights developments in ballistic missile defence programmes around the globe.

It takes the entire ballistic missile defence (BMD) enterprise – from production processes, to more capable radars and the interceptors themselves – to ultimately deter and defeat ballistic missile attacks. This annual review provides a glimpse of BMD developments throughout this warfare domain.

Israel’s multi-layered defence array is based on four layers; IRON DOME, DAVID’s SLING, and the ARROW 2 and ARROW 3 systems. The nation’s BMD system’s mission readiness and capabilities continue to increase, with the US supporting the architecture construct through industry participation and funding.

Most recently, this 19 February, the Israel Missile Defense Organization and the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) reported the completion of a successful flight test of the ARROW 3 weapons system that is designed to defend against ballistic missiles outside of the atmosphere.

The test was conducted in central Israel and was led by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in collaboration with the Israeli Air Force.
Boeing partnered with IAI division MLM to develop and produce the ARROW 3 interceptor. ARROW 3 interceptors were initially delivered to the Israeli Air Force in January 2017 for operational use.

Concurrently, the US Army continues to cautiously, but deliberately, eye the IRON DOME for its BMD order of battle. IRON DOME consists of the Rafael-developed launchers, each of which houses 20 TAMIR interceptors; a multi-mission Elta (an IAI subsidiary) radar; and a battle management and control system by Rafael and its mPrest subsidiary. Raytheon produces more than 50% of components for the IRON DOME’s TAMIR intercepting missile in the US. The army has completed tests and evaluations of IRON DOME dating back to 2016. The service declined to respond to MONCh’s email and telephone query on the topic.

Beyond US industry participation in individual Israeli BMD programmes, the US government continues to provide a funding lifeline for the overall system. Indeed, for fiscal year 2019, Congress requested at least U$500 million (€427 million) in appropriations for the continued: co-production and procurement of IRON DOME system components; development of block upgrades for DAVID’s SLING; co-production and procurement of DAVID’s SLING system components; co-production and procurement of ARROW-3 system components; and finally, for enhancements for the ARROW System Improvement Program and interoperability with US systems.

SAMP/T is a theatre-level air defence system designed for point defence against current and future airborne threats. The system, developed by Eurosam and jointly owned by MBDA Missile Systems and Thales, is in service with the Italian Army and French Air Force – with the increased prospect of gaining another customer, Turkey. This January, Turkey awarded Eurosam, Aselsan and Roketsan a contract for the definition study of the future Turkish Long Range Air and Missile Defence System. Last November, Turkish, Italian and French defence ministers signed an intergovernmental agreement to strengthen their relationship in defence matters, starting with air and missile defence. A Eurosam statement noted: “Turkey has been seeking for years to develop a national long-range air and missile defence system. Discussion with France and Italy focused on a solution using Eurosam SAMP/T as a stepping stone the complete Turkish system LORAMIDS [Long-Range Air-and Missile-Defence System].” For more on this, please see here

For full article, please see MT #7/8-2018 available at the Space and Missile Defense (SMD) Symposium 2018 in Huntsville, AL/USA next week, or order here. Article details: Lockheed Martin‘s Miniature Hit-to-Kill (MHTK), Raytheon’s AN/SPY-6(V)1 S-band radar, PATRIOT and SM-3, MDA’s Low Power Laser Demonstrator (LPLD) and MDA’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System plus more.

Real and perceived geopolitical threats in Asia and the Middle East are certain to drive nations in and around the regions into the market place, to add initial or more BMD units to their orders of battle. At the same time, enhanced missiles, UAVs and other technology enhancements throughout the entire domain will provide service staffs and units with more lethal capabilities to deter, and when necessary, engage hostile missiles.


Marty Kauchak is a retired US Navy Captain, a defence writer, and a regular contributor to MT.


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