The United States and Romania recently began construction on a Romanian-based missile defense system, also known as Aegis Ashore. This critical event is requisite to build a comprehensive multilayered missile defense system. And it’s making Russia nervous.
Moscow (predictably) continues to incorrectly contend that the new system is directed toward it, even though the Administration’s position has been, and continues to be, that the defensive missile shield is for Middle Eastern threats. The Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) system is defensive relying on the SM-3 interceptors’ kinetic power to destroy ballistic threats through mid-air collision.
Russia is expected to permanently deploy their S-400 and S-500 (currently in development) anti-aircraft and missile systems in response to the new Romanian–U.S. missile defense site. The purpose would be to garner political pressure against the U.S.’s decision to build the site with a possible goal of ending its construction.
The new Romanian-based missile defense site is vital for countering potential Middle Eastern ballistic missiles threats. According to the State Department, once it becomes operational in 2015, the U.S. and NATO will gain an added missile interceptor site, and Romania will gain “situational awareness into operations at the ballistic missile defense facility, which includes receiving information on ballistic missiles tracked by the missile defense system and the status of the U.S. missile defense of Europe.” Both parties will also gain added cooperation due to U.S. military, government, and support personnel being based at the Deveselu Air Base in Romania.
The Romanian-based Aegis Ashore system should be applauded. However, the Obama Administration has imposed various limitations on the U.S. ballistic missile defense system. Such drastic reductions may not allow the U.S. to keep pace with the advancing ballistic missile threat.
John Collick is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.