United States European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) and NATO Missile Defense

On September 17, 2009, President Barack Obama announced the U.S. decision to adopt a new approach to ballistic missile defense in Europe.  This plan is called the European Phased Adaptive Approach or EPAA.  The President stated:

To put it simply, our new missile defense architecture in Europe will provide stronger, smarter, and swifter defenses of American forces and America’s Allies.  It is more comprehensive than the previous program; it deploys capabilities that are proven and cost-effective; and it sustains and builds upon our commitment to protect the U.S. homeland against long-range ballistic missile threats; and it ensures and enhances the protection of all our NATO Allies.

The United States has demonstrated substantial progress in implementing the President’s vision, consisting of four phases.

  • Phase 1 (2011 timeframe) – Addresses regional ballistic missile threats to our European Allies and our deployed personnel and their families by deploying a land-based AN/TPY-2 radar and existing Aegis BMD-capable ships equipped with proven SM-3 Block IA interceptors.  In March 2011, the United States announced the deployment of the USS Monterey to the Mediterranean to begin a sustained deployment of Aegis BMD-capable ships in support of the EPAA.
  • Phase 2 (2015 timeframe) – After appropriate testing, we will deploy a more capable version of the SM-3 interceptor (Block IB).  We will also add a land-based SM-3 ballistic missile defense interceptor site, which Romania has agreed to host, in order to expand the defended area against short- and medium-range missile threats.  Negotiations for a basing agreement are well underway and the United States and Romania announced the joint selection of a site in May 2011.
  • Phase 3 (2018 timeframe) – After development and testing are complete, we will deploy a more advanced SM-3 interceptor (Block IIA) and add a  second land-based SM-3 site, which Poland agreed to host in October 2009, to counter short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missile threats.  In July 2010, the United States and Poland signed the Protocol amending the August 2008 Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement to provide the basis for Poland to host the  land-based SM-3 site.   On April 22, 2011, Polish President Komorowski signed legislation ratifying the Agreement.
  • Phase 4 (2020 timeframe) – After development and testing are complete, we will deploy the SM-3 Block IIB interceptor to enhance our ability to counter medium- and intermediate-range missiles and potential future ICBM threats to the United States from the Middle East.

One of the most important milestones since President Obama’s announcement in 2009 was NATO’s decision at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010 to develop a missile defense capability whose aim is to protect NATO European populations, territory and forces against the increasing threats posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles.  NATO also agreed to expand its current missile defense command, control, and communications capabilities to protect NATO European populations, territory, and forces.  Allies at Lisbon welcomed the EPAA as the U.S. national contribution to NATO’s missile defense architecture, as well as contributions from other Allies.

Another important milestone was the commitment made during the November 2010 NATO-Russia Council (NRC) Summit for NATO and Russia to explore opportunities for missile defense cooperation.  Effective cooperation with Russia could enhance the overall effectivenss and efficiency of our combined territorial missiles defenses, and at the same time provide Russia with greater security.  As an initial step, NATO and Russia agreed on a joint ballistic missile threat assessment and that the NRC would resume theater missile defense cooperation.  The United States and Russia also continue to discuss missile defense cooperation.

For more information on U.S. missile defense policy, please see the Ballistic Missile Defense Review (BMDR).