Rome, 20th-21st April 1993

Official Record

Office of the Clerk of the Assembly of WEU




Tuesday, 20th April 1993


Current state of industrial studies on anti-missile systems in Europe


High technology security co-operation

Mr. STEINICKE (Director, Planning and Research Division, Deutsche Aerospace (DASA), Germany). - Within the time given to me, I want to review briefly our present security situation - that is, developments since the collapse of the Soviet empire. And against that background, I would like to share some of my own thoughts on the following agenda:

- new security environment - risk analysis;

- co-operative strategies study - an answer to risk potentials;

- technological scenario and possible solutions;

- individual positions of the partners involved in the study.

1. Security situation today

The future of the process of European integration is an integral part of any discussion about the European security embedded in a global environment. Given the events of the last months, the way ahead is perhaps a little less clear than it seemed before. But let me state at the very outset my own confidence that Europe can and will continue to move forward - in concert and co-operation with North America - on many fronts in a new world order.

While the cold war has ended, we are still in the midst of a transition in Europe. As a fact, the transition to democracy and free markets in Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union is a painful one, with uncertain prospects for immediate success. National and ethnic conflicts that decades of communist repression kept in check have now resurfaced, with appalling results.

The ongoing carnage in Yugoslavia is the worst case so far, and the closest to home. But more and more, our governments will also have to reckon with conflicts in such unfamiliar places as Nagorno-Karabakh and Tajikistan.

These local conflicts are horrific enough for the killing and wanton destruction involved. But they also pose a clear and present danger to the stability of the regions in which they lie.

I should also mention that not all the threats and risks now facing European security are home-grown. The potential proliferation of ballistic missile technology and the spread of nuclear and chemical weapons could threaten Europe and all of us more directly than ever. And this cannot be regarded as a possible problem only for the southern region. Economic and political turmoil in the Maghreb and the Horn of Africa represent another set of risks. The "security of Europe" is more than ever a question whose boundaries extend well beyond the territory of NATO's sixteen member states.

With this background and from talks to Russian reformists, it seems to me - and this is of specific importance to our theme - that there is growing Russian interest in enforcing strategic stability by forming controlled integrated early-warning systems.

Keeping this development in mind, a different light is cast on the threat by arms capable of mass destruction.

Now, as the old scenarios have gone to very low probabilities for the foreseeable future, new threats to population and infrastructure seem to emerge. Crisis potentials like instable political dynamics driven by economic, demographic, ethnic or religious developments, in conjunction with the acquisition of technologies for mass destruction via proliferation or the development of related production capabilities enforced by the availability of knowledge and material from the former USSR, are forming the background.

The complexity of these interdependencies of evolution, motivations and means result in our perception of potential opponents as being unpredictable or irrational, also meaning a diminished effectiveness of - rational - deterrence strategies.

Together with this, the spectrum of threats increases: it extends beyond the missile-delivered warheads - once viewed as predominant - spreading to low-cost chemical or biological weapons deliverable by low-accuracy missiles as well as by other means; ordinary and "low cost", down to terrorist groups with chemical/biological agents "in bottles". Psychological effects on the population supplement possible large-scale damage.

In this "inventory", ballistically-delivered nuclear, chemical or biological warheads are but one item - however, a prominent one as their acquisition and development by an increasing number of countries continues.

As a consequence, efforts for a defensive posture must not be focused on this singular segment (missile) but have to be based on a thorough risk assessment resulting in a balanced evaluation of potential threats versus measures to counter them (ATBM, political, non-proliferaton, embargo, surgical operations, police).

A prerequisite for this is intelligence, one of the means is surveillance and, because of the global aspects of the problem, preferably global surveillance.

2. Co-operative strategies study

Under the above auspices, it seems natural to envisage a high-technology security co-operation between nations and organisations with parallel needs and interests, particularly in the framework of declining defence budgets.

An initiative to that end has been taken by the United States CREST (Center for Research and Studies on Strategy and Technology) starting in 1990.

This initiative brought together representatives of industry, research and politicians from France, Germany, United Kingdom and the United States to bring forward an agenda for future alliance defence technology co-operation in the context of NATO.

As a result against the background of until now unsatisfactory transatlantic co-operation and of technology transfer barriers, four areas of common interest, directed towards enhanced global stability and, more specifically, towards tactical ballistic missile defence have been identified for co-operation initiatives:

- a distributed surveillance system in terms of architecture, operations and political implications;

- a TMD architecture study in the new security political environment, comprising a technical threat assessment and defence concepts;

- technologies for hypersonic flight with the goal of a common United States-European demonstrator/prototype programme;

- build-up of NATO industrial capability for military wargaming and analytical modelling based on common and standard definitions, goals and procedures.

The motivation for the first area, the surveillance system, is to get intelligence and information. Recognising the shortcomings of actual systems, the approach aims for an integrated network of satellite, airborne and ground-based systems to provide a continuous all-weather surveillance over geographically dispersed areas. This is not only a provision for TMD systems but also enhances the locating of mobile missile launchers and enables timely attack on these. Moreover, surveillance is a crucial element for European participation in preventive crisis management, especially when used to check test ranges, launches and non-proliferation agreements.

As arms and export control policies are unlikely to halt proliferation completely, in addition to these an improved ability to intercept ballistic missile launches appears critical, particularly as increasing ranges of such weapons could threaten not only deployed forces but also the population centres and infrastructure of western nations. The question is, what degree of area defence is required, respective global coverage needed. Complexity and cost of a full-scale TMD system argue srongly in favour of a truly co-operative programme.

Hypersonic technology for future transport to space systems, for surveillance, TMD and other activities, is an essential strategic asset. Development costs, however, ask for global, minimum transatlantic co-operation on fair and balanced terms.

No doubt that political willingness and government support are essential for any project success. Thus, the rationale of the co-operative strategies project is to lay the focus on a number of technology areas capable of addressing common alliance security needs and of enhancing global stability.

3. Technological questions

From the four areas of possible transatlantic co-operation identified in the study, I would like to elaborate somewhat more broadly on technical aspects of the second one, there addressed as theatre missile defence architecture.

Now, where are the technical problems and clues to implement a defensive posture against ballistic missile threats as addressed before?

The reports of success and failure of operations against ballistic missiles in the Gulf war, as far as accessible to us, give some hints:

- deficiencies in surveillance and reconnaissance;

- severe problems for ground-based defence with SAMs lacking surveillance/early warning.

In consequence, even against existing conventional ballistic threats, only an unreliable shield with very restricted footprints (i.e. area protected by a defence system) seems achievable, intended upgrades only alleviating the most severe shortcomings.

What are the technical perspectives in this situation, as far as ground-based ATBM systems are concerned?

A viable approach is first to describe the technical characteristics of the threat to be countered, then to discuss the demands on the protection level required (a somewhat political question), scan the systems and technologies available or discussed, and finally analyse the need for technologies to be developed and acquired.

Threat characteristics are, as already outlined:

- TBMs of increasing range with increasingly steeper/faster re-entry conditions, vehicles/warheads of increasingly lower (radar) signatures;

- warheads with conventional, chemical, possibly nuclear means.

Demands on the protection level will be higher:

- levels for protection of military assets and troops must be very high. Even higher levels are required when protection of the population in non-war conditions is concerned (against state's terroristic action or blackmailing).

- requirements towards keep-out altitudes (i.e. minimum altitude for intercept) are increased when chemical or nuclear warheads are taken into account;

- kill mechanisms must assure warhead destruction or full incapacitation, particularly for the protection of area targets.

At the high end of performance, also in terms of cost, an ATBM system might consist of space-based surveillance, missile detection and acquisition sub-systems, ground-based fire control radars, ground-based interceptors for regional protection. All these items linked together by local battle management centres plus a remote communication/command/control and larger-scale battle managament installation.

As an alternative, a global system has to rely on space- based effectors. This, in my mind, affects non-militarisation of space and requires an international command structure.

At the low end one may think of an autonomous system relying exclusively on own detection/acquisition/fire control, comparable to the Patriots in the Gulf war.

Whereas this autonomous employment of multi-purpose SAMs is at best adequate for point defence, for extended area defence, various stages, from regional to global protection, could be envisaged.

For such an area defence, required in particular for the protection of population and infrastructure, the main technology areas which are not straightforward available, are in my view:

(a) space-based (global) surveillance by satellites - sensors, data-processing and communication links as a prerequisite if not for early warning and reactive defence, then to open the option for counterattack on launch sites;

(b) sensors for detection and tracking of incoming threats, where at least for the time being two approaches should be pursued: ground-based radars and airborne infrared systems;

(c) BM/C3I (battle management/command, control, communication information) systems linking together the sub-systems, mainly specific software, with decisively reduced functions compared to SDI;

(d) interceptor technology

- missile guidance in outer layer of the atmosphere; - seeker technology, radar and IR, including target acquisition processes;

- fusing techniques handling very high-speed situations and enabling appropriate kill mechanisms for complete incapacitation or destruction of threat warheads, including chemical warheads.

4. National positions

Finally, let me say some words about my German industrial perception of some nations' views of the ATBM issue, also linked to the peripheric discussions of the study work.

In general, one of the main political obstacles for progress in the area, namely the ABM Treaty, is still a topic, however this treaty should no longer be seen as prohibitive for the initiation of technological co-operation in some areas by Europeans, this encompassing treaty not affecting technologies.

Even more so, Russian voices indicate that there is interest for increasing strategic stability by forming an integrated early-warning system. There is even further interest in controlling and preventing unauthorised launches through area warning systems.

This may result in an opportunity to put Russian competence and knowledge into the efforts, widening the ongoing talks with the United States.

Vis-a-vis the United States, one of our main interests is to exploit whether possible European contributions could be tied into co-operation on truly balanced terms of fair partnership.

The Japanese view seems to be favourable in response to the GPS initiative, still being restricted by tight constitutional regulations.

Within the United Kingdom, the tendency seems to be towards a regional approach within the European framework, favouring means to counter a broader spectrum of threats (including airbreathing).

Italian positions appear difficult to interpret. Therefore, I leave it to the discretion of the expertise in this room.

As far as I can assess it, the French position is even more interesting, it is threefold. Politically, no threat is perceived and excellent relations with all neighbours, including the opposing coast exist.

Second, the nuclear force de frappe is claimed to be able to handle emanating threats not susceptible to deterrence. For this, an early warning component could be of interest, provided no militarisation of space be linked to this. On the other hand, French industry is active in this field, for example, Aerospatiale and Thomson-CSF under the auspices of CoSyDe (Conception de Systemes de Defense) and in the context of Western European Union analyses.

In Germany, due to overall financial constraints, political priorities linked to completion of German reunification, and the resulting socio-economic situation, the development and procurement of systems against very low probability threats are not affordable.

Therefore, the German perspective and policy-making criteria in general are easy to name:

- low probability of threat;

- extreme resources problems;

- still important political hesitation about staying close to former SDI type activities which might affect the ABM Treaty.

More specifically, the German position, recently presented by an airforce officer, still is:

- there is little if not any threat at all by IRBMs and LRBMs from former Warsaw Pact countries;

- BM threat from other countries against populated areas in Germany is rather unlikely;

- ATBM capabilities will be provided with Patriot PAC3, TLVS and some long-range detection system to be selected;

- however, German forces need ATBM capabilities to protect military assets and missions in NATO peripheric actions.

Having said this, I shall point out, there is an ongoing process which in some years may change these driving factors and therefore the conclusions. Meanwhile, the discussion continues, as a statement in the planning directive for 1994 indicates: "Keeping up the option to participate in multinational activities for strategic air defence". Of course, we have to emphasise necessary means like early warning for crisis management and we have to recognise the ballistic threat which we have indicated today and which means: we should not put our population at risk.

It is our desire from an industrial point of view to provide our experience, recent study results and technological capabilities to find the best solutions to the mutual benefit of partners in collective security.