The US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers are front-line ships in today’s Navy. They have an upgraded capability to provide area ballistic missile defense, which is in increasing demand around the world as regional adversaries like the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran develop and deploy indigenous ballistic capabilities, as well as peer adversaries such as Russia and China.

Here is an overview of the Navy’s ballistic missile defense contribution to the US Missile Defense Agency’s Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) from the official website:

Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) is the naval component of the Missile Defense Agency’s Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). Aegis BMD builds upon the Aegis Weapon System, Standard Missile, Navy and joint forces’ Command, Control and Communication systems. The Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force, formally found Aegis BMD to be operationally effective and suitable. The Navy embraces BMD as a core mission. In recognition of its scalability, Aegis BMD/SM-3 system is a keystone in the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) for missile defense in Europe.

[The Aegis BMD provides a regional defense capability that] Defeats short- to intermediate-range, unitary and separating, midcourse-phase, ballistic missile threats with the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), as well as short-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase with the SM-2.

To augment the four DDGs presently homeported in Europe, the Navy is preparing to deploy two  more, as described here:

The US Navy supports, and is anticipating, sending an additional two destroyers to Rota, Spain, which would bring the total number to six DDGs based in Europe.

The move, which Navy leaders have opposed in the past on the grounds it pulls ships away from carrier strike groups, has been picking up steam as it has drawn congressional interest. U.S. European Command has been calling for more destroyers for years now.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday told lawmakers he supported sending the two extra destroyers to respond to EUCOM demands.

“We support the additional two DDGs to Spain,” Gilday said. “Right now, we are working with U.S. European Command. They are working on their strategic laydown of the theater. And when that is complete, you’ll be briefed up here in the Congress.

In addition to these DDGs, the Navy has deployed shore-based Aegis BMD systems to Romania and Poland in order to augment EUCOM’s and NATO’s ballistic missile defense capabilities.

Aegis Ashore is part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA). The Aegis Ashore site in Romania was certified operational in 2016 as part of the EPAA Phase II. In 2018, Aegis Ashore will be installed in Poland as part of EPAA Phase III.

It is important to note that, just as President Trump reversed Obama’s decision to not provide Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, he also accelerated BMD research, development, testing, and deployment. This article details the Obama administration’s “misguided BMD legacy.”

The end.

Stu Cvrk
Stu Cvrk served 30 years in the US Navy in a variety of active and reserve capacities, with considerable operational experience in the Middle East and the Western Pacific. An oceanographer and systems analyst through education and experience, Stu is a graduate of the US Naval Academy where he received a classical liberal education which serves as the key foundation for his political commentary. He threads daily on Twitter on a wide range of political, military, foreign policy, government, economics, and world affairs topics.
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