Ballistic missile defence
Proliferation of ballistic missiles poses an increasing threat to NATO populations, territory and forces. Many countries have ballistic missiles or are trying to develop or acquire them. NATO ballistic missile defence (BMD) is part of the Alliance’s response against the increasing threat and of its core task of collective defence.
- In 2010, Allies decided to develop a territorial BMD capability to pursue NATO's core task of collective defence.
- NATO has the responsibility to protect its European populations, territory and forces in light of the increasing proliferation of ballistic missiles and against threats emanating from outside the Euro-Atlantic area.
- NATO BMD is purely defensive; it is a long-term investment to address a long-term security threat.
- In July 2016, Allies declared Initial Operational Capability of NATO BMD, which offers a stronger capability to defend Alliance populations, territory and forces across southern NATO Europe against a potential ballistic missile attack.
- NATO BMD capability combines assets commonly funded by all Allies as well as voluntary contributions provided by individual Allies.
- Several Allies already offered their contributions or are undergoing development or acquisition of further BMD assets such as upgraded ships with BMD-capable radars, ground-based air and missile defence systems or advanced detection and alert capabilities.
More background information
At the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, NATO leaders decided to develop a territorial BMD capability. At that time, the Alliance decided to expand the scope of its already ongoing Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence (ALTBMD) programme beyond the protection of NATO deployed forces to also provide territorial missile defence.
At the Chicago Summit in May 2012, the Alliance declared the achievement of the Interim NATO BMD capability. It provided an operationally significant first step and offered maximum coverage within the available means to defend populations, territory and forces across southern NATO Europe against a potential ballistic missile attack.
In July 2016, Allies declared the achievement of the Initial Operational Capability of NATO BMD, which offers a stronger capability to defend Alliance populations, territory and forces across southern NATO Europe against a potential ballistic missile attack.
The increasing threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles in the vicinity of the south-east border of the Alliance has been, and remains a driver in NATO’s development and deployment of a ballistic missile defence system, which is configured to counter threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area. The final aim of NATO BMD is to provide full coverage and protection for all NATO European populations, territory and forces against the increasing threats posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles. This coverage is based on the principles of indivisibility of Allied security and NATO solidarity, equitable sharing of risks and burdens, as well as reasonable challenge. It also takes into account the level of threat, affordability and technical feasibility, and is in accordance with the latest common threat assessments agreed by the Alliance. Should international efforts reduce the threats posed by ballistic missile proliferation, NATO missile defence can, and will, adapt accordingly.
NATO BMD is based on voluntary national contributions, including nationally funded interceptors and sensors, hosting arrangements and on the expansion of the Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence (ALTBMD) capability. Only the command and control systems of ALTBMD and their expansion to territorial defence are eligible for common funding.
The United States contributes to NATO BMD through its European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA). Turkey is hosting a US BMD radar at Kürecik; Romania is hosting a US Aegis Ashore site at Deveselu Air Base (declared operational on 12 May 2016); Germany is hosting the command centre at Ramstein Air Base; and Poland will be hosting another Aegis Ashore site at the Redzikowo Military Base. Additionally, in the context of the EPAA, Spain is hosting four multi-mission BMD-capable Aegis ships at its naval base in Rota. All of these assets are voluntary national contributions and are integral parts of the NATO BMD capability.
Several Allies currently offer further ground-based air and missile defence systems (such as Patriot or SAMP/T) or complementary ships as a force protection of other BMD assets. Other Allies are also developing or acquiring BMD-capable assets that could eventually be made available for NATO BMD.
The Defence Policy and Planning Committee (Reinforced) (DPPC(R)) is the senior committee under the North Atlantic Council that oversees and coordinates all efforts at the political-military level to develop the NATO BMD capability. It also provides political-military guidance and advice on NATO BMD.
The Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD) is the senior committee responsible for the BMD programme aimed at developing the necessary technical functionalities for BMD planners and operators.
NATO Military Authorities are responsible for developing a military doctrinal framework for BMD and related operational planning, training and execution.
The Air and Missile Defence Committee (AMDC) is the senior committee responsible for overall policy aspects of NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD).
Several other NATO senior committees address NATO BMD in the context of broader topics, such as civil emergency planning or crisis management.
The key policy document providing the framework for NATO's activities in the area of BMD is NATO's 2010 Strategic Concept. In addition, BMD is an important aspect of the Deterrence and Defence Posture Review of 2012.
The Strategic Concept recognises, inter alia, that "the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, threatens incalculable consequences for global stability and prosperity. During the next decade, proliferation will be most acute in some of the world's most volatile regions". "Therefore, NATO will develop the capability to defend our populations and territories against ballistic missile attack as a core element of our collective defence, which contributes to the indivisible security of our Alliance". As a defensive capability, BMD will be one element of a broader response to the threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles.
The Deterrence and Defence Posture Review of 2012 states that missile defence can complement the role of nuclear weapons in deterrence; it cannot substitute for them. It is a purely defensive capability and is being established in the light of threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area. It is expected that NATO's missile defence capabilities would complicate an adversary's planning, and provide damage mitigation. Effective missile defence could also provide valuable decision space in times of crisis. Like other weapons systems, missile defence capabilities cannot promise complete and enduring effectiveness. NATO missile defence capability, along with effective nuclear and conventional forces, will signal our determination to deter and defend against any threat from outside the Euro-Atlantic area to the safety and security of our populations.
At the Lisbon Summit in 2010, Allied leaders agreed to address air and missile defence in a holistic way by developing a NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS). NATINAMDS is based on the previously existing NATO Integrated Air Defence System (NATINADS) enhanced by the new BMD elements.
Since 2003 NATO and Russia engaged in TBMD-related discussions and activities under the auspices of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC). From 2010 onwards, discussions and activities expanded from Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence (TBMD) towards territorial BMD. NATO and Russia examined possible areas for cooperation in this field. Progress, however, was difficult and, in October 2013, NATO-Russia BMD-related discussions were paused by Russia. In April 2014, NATO suspended all practical cooperation with Russia in response to its illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea.
NATO launches two parallel feasibility studies for a future