Air Force Space Command Supports NATO Ballistic Missile Defense Declaration at NATO Summit



by Al Burke
U.S. Air Forces Europe


6/18/2012 - Ramstein Air Base, Germany -- General Mark Welsh, U.S. Air Forces Europe commander and nominee to serve as the 20th Air Force Chief of Staff, praised Air Force Space Command and the Air Force Material Command's Electronic Systems Command Shared Early Warning System (SEWS) Program Office for playing a key role in support of President Obama's Ballistic Missile Defense Phased Adaptive Approach and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen's declaration of an Interim Ballistic Missile Defense capability for NATO European territory.

The declaration was made on May 21, 2012 at the NATO Summit in Chicago, which included Heads of States from all 28 NATO nations.

AFSPC now provides NATO with a continuous enhanced Space-based early warning data feed to NATO partners in support of the BMD mission. NATO receives data from space-based sensors with the same accuracy and timeliness as US forces.

"The delivery of enhanced Shared Early Warning data to NATO supports both the passive and active defense pillars of European Ballistic Missile Defense." said Lt Gen Friedrich Ploeger, Deputy Commander NATO Air Command Ramstein.

"The ability to integrate U.S. Space Based Infrared sensors into the NATO BMD architecture provides NATO the earliest launch indications to support the BMD Engagement Sequence and to kick off the Consequence Management process."

"The focal point of Missile Defense in Europe is Ramstein Air Base where U.S. European Phased Adaptive Approach systems and AFSPC provided SEW+ data is integrated with NATO command and control systems," General Welsh said. "The combination of these capabilities is the foundation for US-NATO command and control."

The team's efforts ensured the SEW capability was delivered in time to support the April 2012 European Air and Missile Defense Exercise, which served as the operations validation event and facilitated the NATO declaration.

During this exercise, approximately 1,000 U.S. and NATO Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines from HQ European Command, service components and six NATO command locations used the space-based infrared data to execute the missile warning and ballistic missile defense mission.

"The integration of SEW data into active ballistic missile defense systems increases their performance by improving their ability to acquire ballistic missiles," said Lt. Col. Frank Samuelson, AMDEX co-director.

This new SEW data enhances NATO's ability to provide missile warning notification across the entire European command and control enterprise. In the future, the U.S. hopes to enhance this capability with engagement quality data from space using the planned Missile Defense Agency delivered and AFSPC- supported Precision Tracking Space System.

On September 17, 2009, President Obama announced the United States would make the European Phased Adaptive Approach the U.S.'s voluntary national contribution to NATO European missile defense. The EPAA leverages U.S. space-based infrared sensors and includes the AN/TPY-2 radar and Aegis BMD ships linked together by the Missile Defense Agency's command, control, battle management and communications system.

The U.S. will field the EPAA in four phases, adaptive to the growing threat. As the EPAA matures, NATO BMD capability will extend defensive coverage to all NATO European allies against longer range and more capable ballistic missiles. The final phases of EPAA also supports U.S. homeland defense.

"Lt. Col. Mike McNeil and Capt. Nick Braun, from the AFPSC Shared Early Warning Program Office, showed significant leadership and vision in supporting emerging NATO requirements and leading their team's delivery of the enhanced SEW capability to NATO in time to support Presidential-level objectives," General Welsh said.

"Mr. Joachim Rogl, Mr. Lee Iverson, Mr. Mike Best and Mr. George Borrelli warrant special recognition as the SEWS team boots on the ground who did the heavy lifting to deliver the space-based infrared capability from Peterson Air Force Base to the new NATO Air Component Command at Ramstein Air Base," he said.