On 12 May the first of two planned Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense (BMD) sites was certified as operational at Deveselu, Romania, by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet. Aegis Ashore is the land-based missile defense component derived from the same technology that sails on board new-construction Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. It includes SPY-1 radar, Mk-41 vertical-launch systems housing SM-3 Block 1B missiles, and linkages to command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence systems. Armed with three eight-cell SM-3 launchers, the new ashore system will work in tandem with four BMD-capable U.S. destroyers already stationed in Rota, Spain, to help protect NATO allies from limited missile attacks. On 13 May, the day after the Romanian site was declared operational, construction began on the next phase of the program, which will establish a second Aegis Ashore BMD site in Poland by 2018. The Polish site will include sensor enhancements and employ the more advanced SM-3 Block IIA missile.
By Eric Wertheim