The Aegis destroyer USS Hopper launches an SM- 3 Block
IA missile to intercept a sub-scale short-range ballistic missile
over the Pacific Ocean July 30, 2009, during Exercise Stellar
Avenger. An improved Standard missile, designated SM- 3
Block IB, will be a cornerstone of the second phase of the
Phased Adaptive Approach program to provide ballistic mis-
sile defense for NATO nations and Israel. The first test of an
SM- 3 Block IB on Sept. 1 off Hawaii, however, failed.
U.S. Sixth Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Marc Boyd and
officials in Washington, however, focused on the ships’
role in the PAA missile defense.
“Current plans call for two ships to arrive in 2014 and
two more ships to arrive in 2015,” Boyd told Seapower.
“All four ships will be outfitted with the Aegis weapons
system, allowing them to perform missions in support of
ballistic missile defense of Europe.”
“The Navy has accepted the mission of managing
the capability so that we have a presence” for PAA, said
Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, director of the Missile
“Obviously, if you have forward-based ships with
infrastructure, it provides a great advantage of crew
rotation and persistence. It greatly increases the efficiency of maintaining that presence,” O’Reilly told an
Oct. 18 Atlantic Council forum in Washington.
President Barack Obama announced the PAA plan in
2009 as a substitute for the BMD concept initiated by former President George W. Bush. That earlier plan, known
as the Third Site, would have based 10 anti-missile interceptors in Poland in a dual effort to protect Europe and
Israel from Iran’s existing medium-range ballistic missiles and the United States from the longer-range missiles
Tehran was expected to deploy, perhaps as early as 2015.
But the interceptors planned for Third Site — modifications of the three-stage missiles used in the national missile defense system — still were under development, raising concerns on both sides of the Atlantic
about the lack of protection for Europe against Iran’s
The four-step PAA was designed to take advantage in
the short term of the proven capability of the 24 Navy
warships with Aegis weapon systems, SPY- 1 radar,
Standard Missile-3s (SM-3s) and enhanced BMD computer software. Later PAA stages would build on the
ongoing development of improved SM-3s and BMD software that would enable the Aegis ships to knock down
The deployment to the eastern Mediterranean of
Monterey, with its defensive capability against short- and
medium-range ballistic missiles, was the beginning of
Phase 1. That phase is to be completed with the installation of an X-band radar in Turkey, which will provide
early warning and initial tracking of a threatening missile.
O’Reilly and Ellen Tauscher, the undersecretary of
state for arms control and international security, told
the Atlantic Council that Phase 1 should be declared
operational at the NATO summit next May in Chicago.
Phase 2 would bolster the Phase 1 assets with an “Aegis
Ashore” facility in Romania, equipped with radar, an Aegis
system and improved Standard missiles, designated SM- 3
Block IB. It is supposed to be operational by 2015.
O’Reilly said the BMD ship and Aegis Ashore would
provide two shots against ballistic missiles with a range
up to 3,000 kilometers, or about 1,900 miles.
The Block IB missile failed in its first test shot Sept.
1 off Hawaii, but O’Reilly predicted that a retest in the
spring would be successful.
Phase 3 would add a second Aegis Ashore site in
Poland by 2018. Both of the land sites and Aegis ships
then would employ an even more capable SM- 3 IIA
interceptor, effective against missiles with a range of
5,000 kilometers, or 3,100 miles.
The Block IIA is being co-developed by Japan and
its initial testing has not been set.
The final phase would equip the ships and land sites
with the SM- 3 IIB, which O’Reilly said would be “a
much more powerful missile” able to engage intercontinental missiles that could threaten the eastern United
States. It is supposed to be operational by 2020.