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NATO Capability Initiatives Advance On Surveillance, Missile Defense, Terrorism

By | May 5, 2008

      Key NATO capability initiatives–alliance ground surveillance (AGS), missile defense and the Defense Against Terrorism Program of Work (DATPoW)–continue to move forward after the biannual Conference of National Armament Directors (CNAD) at NATO headquarters April 24.

      Armament directors from the 26 NATO member countries attended.

      During the meeting, officials responsible for defense procurement in NATO member countries examined issues discussed at the recent Bucharest Summit and developed plans to move forward on a number of issues in preparation for NATO’s 60th anniversary summit next year, directors said in a statement.

      The participating countries re-stated their commitment to acquire a state-of-the-art AGS and agreed to share costs. This paves the way for the preparation of a Request for Proposal to industry. A Program Memorandum of Understanding will be prepared for national staffing and signature, and a charter for the creation of an AGS management organization will be circulated for approval.

      NATO’s AGS system consists of a mix of manned and unmanned airborne radar platforms that can look down on the ground and relay data to commanders, providing them with "eyes in the sky" over a specific area.

      The Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), U.S. Army Gen. John Craddock emphasized the need for "timely delivery of Alliance Ground Surveillance," which would further strengthen information superiority through network-enabled capabilities that link NATO and national systems.

      On territorial missile defense, the armament directors reviewed progress which led to a report to Heads of State and Government at Bucharest. At that NATO Summit, new tasks were received which will become CNAD’s contribution to discussion and a possible decision at the 2009 Strasbourg/Kehl Summit on linking current NATO missile defense efforts with the planned deployment of European-based United States missile defense assets and options for a comprehensive missile defense architecture to extend coverage to all allied territory and populations not otherwise covered by the United States.

      Directors agreed good progress was made on the Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense System (ALTBMD) capability. The system, designed to protect troops deployed on missions from short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, is scheduled to deliver an initial operating capability before the end of 2011.

      NATO TMD will be a multilayer system consisting of early warning sensors, radar and interceptors. NATO member countries will provide the sensors and weapon systems. NATO is developing a commonly funded NATO architecture to integrate all the elements.

      Armaments directors recognized a major program milestone achieved earlier this year–opening of the integration Test Bed at the NATO C3 Agency in The Hague–ahead of schedule and on budget.

      SAIC [SAI] signed a contract in 2006 to build the Integrated Test Bed, which was delivered nine months ahead of schedule. The facility will test designs for NATO systems that will allow European and U.S. missile defense technologies to work together as part of a NATO TMD system.

      The armaments directors also focused on ways in which NATO is developing new, cutting-edge technologies to protect troops and civilians against terrorist attacks.

      These technologies are aimed at preventing the kinds of attacks perpetrated by terrorists, such as suicide attacks with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and rocket attacks against aircraft and helicopters.

      The DATPoW is advancing on several fronts.

      • This month, the Defence Against Mortar Attack (DAMA) initiative leadership passes to Norway from the Netherlands.
      • The Precision Airdrop initiative is reaching maturity and could help NATO military authorities address the serious shortfall in helicopters.
      • The Counter-IED initiative has made much progress with the development of an IED database to facilitate detailed analysis of incidents, an integration tool to improve the performance of existing technologies, and an innovative solution to prevent member countries’ electronic jammers from attacking each other, rather than the IED.
      • Canada announced plans to begin work on Non-Lethal Capabilities, involving interested non-NATO countries.

      National Armaments Directors also discussed CNAD’s possible contributions to NATO reform in areas such as the defence planning review, a more capability-based committee structure, and closer relations with some of the 13 NATO agencies.

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