NATO Air Headquarters Ramstein passes missile defence test

  • 04 Apr. 2012 - 05 Apr. 2012
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  • Last updated: 17 Apr. 2012 10:42

The operational headquarters for NATO's future territorial ballistic missile defence capability passed a significant technical test on 4-5 April as it conducted a series of simulated engagements using assets from across the Alliance.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans arrives at Marathi NATO Pier facility for a routine port visit.

The NATO command and control capability for ballistic missile defence, located at Headquarters Allied Air Command (HQ AC) in Ramstein, Germany, linked with Patriot missile-defence batteries in Germany and the Netherlands, the US Aegis destroyer "The Sullivans” in the Mediterranean, and NATO and US command elements in Europe and North America, to test the Alliance's ability to counter missile attacks.

Dutch launch crew preparing the Patriot battery for firing.

In a series of simulated engagements, HQ AC Ramstein acted as the link between all the various assets, sharing information between early-warning satellites, ground-and sea-based sensor platforms, interceptors and HQs to oversee the defence against incoming missiles.

This was the first test of HQ AC Ramstein's new role as operational headquarters for ballistic missile defence.

"This is just a first step, a very small step but a very very important step and from what we've seen so far, a successful one,” said General Mark A. Welsh, Commander Allied Air Command Ramstein.

Ultimately, NATO's goal is to develop a missile defence capability to protect the Alliance's European populations, territory and forces, as decided by NATO Heads of State and Government at the Lisbon NATO Summit in November 2010.

The exercise marked the first step in implementing the command and control of the future system – a development which is expected to continue in the coming years.

"I believe this has been very successful. We have completed all the objectives we had for the exercise. The entire NATO team has done a magnificent job of creating a capability where there was none even six to eight months ago. We could not have done what we did today without the policy guidance the NAC has given us, or the strategic military direction SACEUR and his SHAPE staff provide. And many NATO Agencies and Programme Office built the technical tools we're using today. These tools where validated using the new BMD modeling and simulation capability of the European Integrated Air and Missile Defense Center in Einsiedlerhof, Germany. Air Command is only a small part of NATO's effort in this mission area, but we're very proud of the role we play,” said General Welsh.

(Story courtesy of ACO)