Updated: 03-May-2002 Week of 15 - 21 April 2002

16 April 2002

National Armaments Directors hold biannual meeting

Mr. Robert Bell (US)

Defence capabilities and means of fighting terrorism dominated the biannual meeting of the Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD), 16 April. Defence capabilities and their enhancement, for which the CNAD has a lead role, and the availability of different types of technologies to fight international terrorism were examined, including technologies which could be of immediate use for action and those that could be adapted in the short term, as well as further measures that needed to be developed.

These issues were discussed in preparation to the run-up to the NATO Summit in Prague, 21-22 November 2002. At this Summit, NATO member countries will assess the efforts made so far in responding to international terrorism and will report on progress made in improving defence capabilities and reducing the technological gap between the United States and the other NATO member countries. Of particular importance in this field is transatlantic defence industrial cooperation. In addition, the Summit will be an opportunity for member countries to revisit the Defence Capabilities Initiative (DCI) that was launched in 1999. They will aim to stream-line its present 59 items to a shorter list of objectives to cover areas such as intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance systems, precision-guided munitions, secure communications and defence against international terrorism.

In addition to these issues, a number of specific programmes were discussed during Tuesday's meeting such as the Alliance Ground Surveillance programme, the Suppression of Enemy Defence and Theatre Missile Defence.

  • The Alliance Ground Surveillance programme is a radar system, designed to give a better picture of the situation on the ground, that NATO is planning to have operational by 2010 to complement its Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) fleet. Some NATO countries already possess this radar capability, but none of these national assets are assigned to NATO.
  • The Suppression of Enemy Defence is a key requirement of NATO Commanders, and an area where interoperability in allied systems is essential. However, there remain major technological hurdles to such interoperability.
  • The CNAD has launched a Theatre Missile Defence study, which is being conducted by two transatlantic defence industry consortia. The study is examining the feasibility of deploying a layered capability on top of the existing infrastructure provided by NATO's Air Defence System. A decision will be taken in 2004 as to whether to proceed further with this project.

NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson gave the opening address at this Spring session of the CNAD. The next session will be held this Autumn, with the participation of Partner countries. The CNAD is the senior NATO committee responsible for armaments cooperation and defence procurement matters. It is at the head of an extensive sub-structure of specialist committees and reports directly to the North Atlantic Council - NATO's most important decision making body. The CNAD is chaired by Mr. Robert Bell (US) (Photo).

Additional information:
  • NATO Press Release (2002)049 - 16 April 2002
    Chairman's Statement following the Meeting of NATO's Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD) at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, on 16th April 2002