Official texts

Opinions

  • 5 May 2008 2008 - NATO
    Speech by NATO Secretary General at the Conference “After the Bucharest NATO Summit : European and American Missile Defense Perspectives”, Prague , Czech Republic
  • 12 Mar. 2008 - NATO
    Briefing on defence against terrrorism and missile defence by NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, Peter Flory
  • 16 May 2007
    Explaining missile defence
    Video interview with NATO's Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, Peter Flory
  • Autumn 2006 - NATO Review
    Missile defence on NATO's agenda
  • 10 May 2006 - NATO
    Press briefing by Mr. Marshall Billingslea, Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment on the signature of the NATO Missile Defence Feasibility Study
  • Autumn 2005 - NATO Review
    Strengthening NATO's missile defence

PDF Library

  • May 2008 - NATO
    NATO Briefing: Countering weapons of mass destruction (.PDF/982Kb)

Multimedia

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Missile defence

By early 2010 NATO will have an initial capability to protect Alliance forces against missile threats and is examining options for protecting territory and populations. This is in response to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, including missiles of all ranges.

The Alliance is united on its missile defence approach and wants to ensure the indivisibility of NATO security, so that all countries would be protected from any potential missile threats.

Components of the policy

The Alliance is conducting three missile defence related activities:

The Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence System (ALTBMD) capability

By early 2010 the Alliance will have an interim capability to protect to protect troops in a specific area against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles (up to 3000 kilometres).

The end system will consist of a multi-layered system of systems, comprising low and high-altitude defences (also called lower and upper layer defences), including battle management, communications, command and control (BMC3I), early warning sensors, radar, and various interceptors. NATO member countries will provide the sensors and weapon systems, while NATO will develop the BMC3I segment and facilitate the integration of all these elements.

At present, The NATO Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence Programme Office (ALTBMD PO) supported by a System Engineering and Integration contractor consortium, Team SAIC, has developed and successfully tested the specifications for the command and control interface between NATO and national systems, using an Integration Test Bed at the NATO Consultation, Command and Control (NC3A) facilities in The Hague.  The testing – including with US, Dutch and French systems and facilities - validated that the specifications are sound and that the NATO procurement of the necessary command and control capabilities can move forward.  As the Programme Office has been requested to field an ALTBMD Capability earlier than planned in support of NATO’s Operational Commands, an interim capability will be fielded in two phases, the first of which is scheduled to be delivered early in 2010.

In addition to delivering the interim capability, the theatre missile defence work has provided technical support to policy discussions of broader missile defence questions about the protection of NATO territory and population centers.

Missile Defence for the protection of NATO territory

A Missile Defence Feasibility Study was launched after the 2002 Prague Summit to examine options for protecting Alliance forces, territory and populations against the full range of missile threats. The study was executed by a transatlantic multinational industry team in cooperation with the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A). It concluded that missile defence is technically feasible within the limits and assumptions of the study. The results were approved by NATO’s Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD) in April 2006 and have provided a technical basis for ongoing political and military discussions regarding the desirability of a NATO missile defence system.

In this context, the Alliance has also considered – at the 2008 Bucharest Summit – the technical details, and political and military implications of the proposed elements of the US missile defence system in Europe. Allied leaders recognized that the planned deployment of European-based US missile defence assets would help protect many Allies, and agreed that this capability should be an integral part of any future NATO-wide missile defence architecture.

Options for a comprehensive missile defence architecture to extend coverage to all Allied territory and populations not otherwise covered by the US system have been developed and will be reviewed at the upcoming Alliance Summit.

At the Bucharest Summit, the Allies encouraged Russia to take advantage of US proposals for cooperation on missile defence. They also stated their readiness to explore the potential for linking US, NATO and Russian missile defence systems at an appropriate time.

Theatre Missile Defence cooperation with Russia

Under the auspices of the NATO-Russia Council, a study was launched in 2003 to assess possible levels of interoperability among theatre missile defence systems of NATO Allies and Russia.

Together with the interoperability study, several computer assisted exercises have been held to provide the basis for future improvements to interoperability and to develop mechanisms and procedures for joint operations in the area of theatre missile defence.

Over three million euros have already been committed to the study and exercise programme.

Mechanisms

The Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD) is the senior NATO committee which acts as the tasking authority for the theatre missile defence programme. The ALTBMD Programme Management Organization, which comprises a Steering Committee and a Programme Office hosted by the NATO C3 Agency, directs the programme and reports to the CNAD.

The focal point for consultation on full-scale missile defence is the Reinforced Executive Working Group. The CNAD is responsible for conducting technical studies and reporting the outcome to the Group.

The NRC Ad hoc Working Group on TMD is the steering body for NATO-Russia cooperation on theatre missile defence.

Evolution

Two key policy documents provide the framework for NATO’s activities in the area of missile defence: NATO’s 1999 Strategic Concept and the Comprehensive Political Guidance which was endorsed by Allied leaders at the Riga Summit in November 2006.

The Strategic Concept recognizes the need for missile defence to counter nuclear, biological and chemical threats. It states: “The Alliance's defence posture against the risks and potential threats of the proliferation of NBC weapons and their means of delivery must continue to be improved, including through work on missile defence. The aim in doing so will be to further reduce operational vulnerabilities of NATO military forces while maintaining their flexibility and effectiveness despite the presence, threat or use of NBC weapons.”

The Comprehensive Political Guidance sets out the priorities for all Alliance capability issues, planning disciplines and intelligence for the next 10 to 15 years. The CPG also provides an overview of the strategic environment within the same timeframe and identifies the spread of weapons of mass destruction as one of the principal threats to the Alliance.

Key milestones

Theatre Missile Defence (TMD)

May 2001 NATO launches two parallel feasibility studies for a future Alliance TMD system.
June 2004 At the Istanbul Summit, Allied leaders direct that work on theatre ballistic missile defence be taken forward expeditiously.
March 2005 The Alliance approves the establishment of a Programme Management Organization under the auspices of the Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD)
September 2006 The Alliance awards the first major contract for the development of a test bed for the system.
February 2008 The test bed is opened and declared fully operational nine months ahead of schedule.
Throughout 2008 The system design for the NATO command and control component of the theatre missile defence system is verified through testing with national systems and facilities via the integrated test bed; this paves the way for the procurement of the capability.

 
Full-scale missile defence

November 2002 At the Prague Summit, Allied leaders direct that a Missile Defence Feasibility Study be launched to examine options for protecting Alliance forces, territory and populations against the full range of missile threats.
April 2006 The study concludes that missile defence is technically feasible within the limits and assumptions of the study. The results are approved by NATO’s Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD).
2007 An update of a 2004 Alliance assessment of missile threat developments is completed.
April 2008 At the Bucharest Summit in April 2008, Allied leaders agreed that the planned deployment of European-based US missile defence assets should be an integral part of any future NATO-wide missile defence architecture. They called for options for a comprehensive missile defence architecture to extend coverage to all Allied territory not otherwise covered by the US system to be prepared in time NATO’s next Summit in 2009.
December 2008 Options for extending missile defence coverage to all Allied territory not otherwise covered by the US system are delivered to NATO’s Conference for National Armaments Directors, in preparation for the discussions at the next Summit.

 
NRC TMD project

2003 A study is launched under the NRC to assess possible levels of interoperability among TMD systems of NATO Allies and Russia.
March 2004 An NRC TMD command post exercise is held in the United States.
March 2005 An NRC TMD command post exercise is held in the Netherlands.
October 2006 An NRC TMD command post exercise is held in Russia.
January 2008 An NRC TMD computer assisted exercise takes place in Germany.