Lawmakers Want to Speed Up the Delivery of Missile Interceptors to Europe

A Standard Missile 3 is tested from the USS Lake Erie

U.S. Navy/Released

AA Font size + Print

A Standard Missile 3 is tested from the USS Lake Erie

In light of tensions with Russia over Ukraine, several U.S. lawmakers want to speed up the deployment of missile interceptors to Europe. By Rachel Oswald

Some U.S. lawmakers are exploring the potential for speeding up missile-interceptor deployments in Europe amid concerns over recent Russian aggression.

The United States is currently planning on fielding modernized Standard Missile 3 Block 1B interceptors on warships home-ported in Spain and at a base in Romania beginning in 2015. A more-capable missile, the Block 2A interceptor, is slated for deployment in Poland starting in 2018. But that time schedule might not be fast enough for some members of Congress, who are eager to send a deterrence message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, following his annexation last month of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

Referring to those deployment plans, Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) at a Wednesday Senate Armed Services subcommittee hearing observed that while the missile interceptors were intended to protect NATO territory against a missile strike from the Middle East, they were “of significant concern to Mr. Putin as well.”

The Obama administration has repeatedly emphasized that the antimissile systems planned for European installations do not have the technical capacity to challenge Russian strategic ballistic missiles. Rather, the U.S. interceptors are designed to target short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, Washington says.

Moscow is forbidden under a 1987 nuclear arms control treaty with the United States from possessing any missiles with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles. However, serious concerns have been raised in recent weeks in the United States about Russia’s compliance with the accord.

At a House Armed Services Committee subcommittee hearing last week, U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) asked the head of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency whether, “as a consequence of the Ukrainian activity by Russia,” deployment of missile interceptors in Poland could be hastened if more funding were provided.

We’ve analyzed that,” agency Director Vice Adm. James Syring responded. “It can be done quicker if money were available, but the budget request supports a 2018 fielding at this point.”

Donnelly pressed the issue further in questioning M. Elaine Bunn, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for nuclear and missile defense policy, on Wednesday about possible new talks with Romania and Poland.

Have we talked to them about moving up those timelines?” the Indiana Democrat asked. “Mr. Putin apparently has no interest in timelines. And so, you know, he’s not going to wait for 2018. … Are we taking a look at our timelines and other things in regards to that?”

Bunn said there have been “no discussions at this point” with NATO partners on the matter.

Testifying alongside Bunn on Wednesday, Syring said that speeding up the timetable for standing up the Polish missile site — the facility that draws most Russian concern — would depend on the development progress of its next-generation Block 2A interceptor. Accelerating the pace of work on the Romania site, however, would largely be a matter of funding, he suggested.

All of that [military construction] funding is mostly in the [fiscal 2016] time frame,” Syring said. “So to go faster, it would require money in ‘15 in terms of the technical feasibility of accelerating.”

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from DefenseOne.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: Supply Chain Insecurity

    Federal organizations rely on state-of-the-art IT tools and systems to deliver services efficiently and effectively, and it takes a vast ecosystem of organizations, individuals, information, and resources to successfully deliver these products. This issue brief discusses the current threats to the vulnerable supply chain - and how agencies can prevent these threats to produce a more secure IT supply chain process.

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Information Operations: Retaking the High Ground

    Today's threats are fluent in rapidly evolving areas of the Internet, especially social media. Learn how military organizations can secure an advantage in this developing arena.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.