By Rick Rozoff
On June 27 the U.S.’s Missile Defense Agency conducted its second test of the new-generation Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block 1B interceptor since last month.
The missile is to replace the current Block 1A version used on American Aegis class cruisers and destroyers capable of being deployed around the world and to be stationed in a land-based configuration in Romania in 2015.
A yet more advanced model, the Block 11A, will be deployed in Poland three years later. As the heart of what Washington calls the European Phased Adaptive Approach, 24 missiles apiece will be based in Romania and Poland to complement as many as 83 U.S. warships already able or upgraded to carry Standard Missile-3 interceptors (at the moment there are 24, with 36 by 2014) which can be dispatched to the Mediterranean Sea, where an Aegis class warship is already on deployment, and in future the Baltic, Norwegian, Barents and Black Seas if the U.S. and NATO desire to place them in those locations.
NATO allies will provide other vessels equipped for missile radar purposes – perhaps dozens, perhaps scores; the missile radar site established in Turkey this January can be supplemented by others, likely in Caucasus and Baltic nations; and the Phased Adaptive Approach will be integrated with existing NATO programs like the Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence and the Medium Extended Air Defense System to cover all of NATO’s European territory with an eventually impenetrable missile shield.
At its summit in Chicago in late May, NATO announced that the continent-wide missile interception system has achieved interim capacity.
A system that extensive is hardly required for the purposes the U.S. and NATO claim it is being created for – missile threats from Iran, North Korea and, according to NATO, even Syria – and instead possesses the potential of presenting a threat to Russia’s strategic assets.
The latest test of the SM-3 1B was off the coast of Hawaii where the USS Lake Erie fired the missile at what has been described as either a medium- or intermediate-range ballistic missile, destroying it in flight. In February 2008 the same guided missile cruiser launched an SM-3 130 miles over the Pacific Ocean to destroy a U.S. satellite, described as being disabled, in what some observers feared could mark the beginning of space warfare.
This week’s was the second successful launch of the SM-3 1B in a month and a half and the 21st successful test of an SM-3 in 28 attempts.
The preceding test, on May 9, was characterized by Wes Kremer, vice president of Raytheon’s Air and Missile Defense Systems, as being more “scripted” and the June 27 test as “more complex” because, he added, “We did do things on this mission that have not ever been previously done before with regards to the complexity of the target…” The latest test involved a separating target missile and the SM-3 Block 1B’s new enhanced two-color infrared seeker which distinguishes missiles from decoys.
The president of Raytheon Missile Systems, Dr. Taylor W. Lawrence, stated that subsequent test scenarios will be progressively more complex “as we demonstrate the full capability of the SM-3 Block IB against more advanced threats.” More complex than largely if not entirely fictitious Iranian and North Korean missile capabilities can serve as a pretext for.
After Wednesday’s launch, Missile Defense Agency spokesman Richard Lehner announced that production of the new SM-3 model will begin in the autumn.
Two days following the test, the head of Russia’s military, General Nikolai Makarov, stated that talks between his nation and the U.S. on the latter’s European interceptor missile system have gone nowhere, as Washington refuses to provide Russia with guarantees that the system will not be aimed against it. In Makarov’s words, “The work of experts continues, but no progress has been made.”
Early last month the above general, chief of the Russian general staff, in speaking of the U.S.-NATO missile system warned that “A decision to use destructive force pre-emptively will be taken if the situation worsens.”