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


Comments on possible protection systems for Europe

Mr. DELAYE (Director, Aerospatiale, Espace et Defense, France). -


It is a pleasure for me to be here in Rome three years after the symposium on observation satellites - a European means of verifying disarmament organised by the Technological and

Aerospace Committee of the Assembly of Western European Union in this same city in 1990.

WEU's initiative certainly helped Europe to make progress in space-based observation.

Let us hope that today's symposium will help defence Europe to make progress in the fight against new threats stemming from the proliferation of missiles and of technology associated with such weapons systems.

1. The threat and the technical assessment of the threat

1.1. Present situation and foreseeable future

Today, at the beginning of 1993, a large number of countries already have scores (and sometimes hundreds) of operational launchers and ballistic missiles and some of them are developing their own missile programmes with a view to eventual autonomy.

It has to be noted that it is quite precarious for a state to depend on a foreign supplier for this type of weapon for which international controls are increasingly stringent.

In the last ten years, the number of countries possessing ballistic missiles has increased considerably. In some countries, the number of launchers and missiles is being increased very significantly, several categories of these devices are being procured and some of the most sophisticated, too, usually in order to add to or even replace their old Scuds.

It may be assumed that in the years to come the principal proliferating countries will have hundreds of ballistic missiles of various types.

Ballistic missiles are procured in four different ways:

- The first is the purchase of complete systems ready to use that will be operational shortly after delivery. Such purchases may be made relatively openly.

Sales and deliveries of missiles may also effected "discreetly".

- The second method consists of modifying missiles that are already available.

Thus, a country may decide to transform a launcher into a ballistic missile, to transform a surface-to-air missile into a surface-to-surface missile or, again, to modify an available surface-to-surface missile to increase its range significantly (the Iraqi example is the best illustration of this operation).

- The third known method consists of copying devices procured from a third country in order to deploy more of its own systems and to export them. This was the course followed by North Korea, which is now exporting a large number of more or less modified copies of Scud-B missiles of Soviet origin.

- The last method is to develop one's own ballistic missile programmes.

This approach may be more or less elaborate.

Thus, a country may receive missiles in separate parts in order to assemble them on the spot with little industrial "added value"; it may also itself produce certain components of the system. Some countries seem capable of developing nearly all the components themselves either on the basis of (or in parallel with) a civil launcher programme or directly for a missile.

It has been noted that many developments are initiated on the basis of the development of probe rockets. Local progress raises the problem of dual technology since there are a number of similarities between the development of a launcher and that of a missile.

Thus, on the basis of knowlege and an analysis of the current flow of technology and/or of missiles, it is possible to deduce the threats represented by the procurement of ballistic missiles by the countries which proliferate the most.

The immediate potential threat in 1993 remains localised; it consists mainly of missiles with a range of less than 1000 km.

The technically possible threat as from the year 2000 may include missiles with a range of almost 3 000 km.

One comment has to be made here: cruise missiles, like ballistic missiles, are also the subject of widespread proliferation by the same countries and in accordance with similar procedures. However, even now, a proliferating cruise missile - whatever its launching platform - does not have such a wide range of action as a ballistic missile; moreover, in view of its trajectory and speed, there is greater probability of it being intercepted than a ballistic missile. Finally, a cruise missile very often carries a far smaller load of explosive. Moreover, recent air defence systems and others now being developed may counter the threat of cruise missiles.

1.2. Technical threat assessment

Slide 2 illustrates Aerospatiale's experience in research, test development and deployment of ballistic missiles from the feasibility studies in the sixties up to the development and deployment of SSBSs and MSBSs by the French national deterrent force.

Aerospatiale was responsible, on behalf of the Missile and Space Directorate of the General Delegation for Armaments, for the prime contractorship for strategic ballistic missile systems.

Thus, Aerospatiale, together with its industrial partners, can contribute expert capability in the technical assessment of the threat and its evolution in the years to come, i.e.:

- the circulation of ballistic technology;

- development and production times;

- provision of the necessary means and other test capabilities.

2. Battle theatres and possible missions of a European anti-missile defence

2.1. Potential theatres (slide 3)

The risks identified above bring out the following potential theatres:

- the European theatre, faced with proliferating missiles of every range carrying payloads of all kinds, including nuclear;

- external theatres:

- concerning intervention forces threatened by short- range missiles;

- concerning friendly countries threatened by missiles of all ranges;

- European possessions overseas threatened by blackmail or retaliation on the same basis as Europe itself.

2.2. Possible missions

Four possible missions might be assigned to a European anti- missile defence system:

2.2.1. Threat assessment

Technical aims should allow:

- surveillance of the installation of missile test firing ranges, launching ramps and plants;

- detection of test and "operational" firings;

- assessment of the physical features of missiles (signatures).

The results will allow catalogues of threatening missiles to be prepared for use in possible conflicts by combining information from various sources.

Observation, detection and other measures would be exercised continuously.

2.2.2. Identifying the aggressor

In time of conflict, as well as these tasks of surveillance, it is expected that, perhaps with the assistance of other sources of information, it should be possible to locate launching points with sufficient accuracy to be certain of the identity of the aggressor.

In this case, results should be communicated in real time to the military involved and to political leaders (before

representatives of the media present in the theatres of operation).

2.2.3. Alerting civilians and the military (passive defence)

In this case, the aim is:

- to plot, i.e. calculate, attacking trajectories accurately enough to determine points of impact;

- to pass on this information as quickly as possible to allow those threatened, and only them, to take

shelter, with a minimum of false alerts.

2.2.4. Protecting civil and military sites (active defence)

The aim is:

- in Europe:

- to protect the population;

- to protect sites of vital economic interest;

- to protect sensitive military bases;

- to protect urban areas and sensitive sites for European possessions, e.g. the European Space Agency launching base in Kourou (Guyana);

- in external theatres:

- to protect intervention forces:

- the forces themselves;

- more particularly, logistic and command bases;

- to protect friendly populated areas and their industrial sites.

3. Possible defence systems

To counter these threats, several systems are possible. They allow some or all of the missions just defined to be carried out:

(i) passive defence, based on an architecture that includes one or more satellites;

(ii) active defence which, according to the type of threat and mission, would consist of one or more of the three different types of system corresponding to their area of action:

- low-altitude so-called "low-endoatmospheric" defence from the ground for intercepting attacking missiles in the lower layers of the


- "high-endoatmospheric" defence from the ground when missiles enter the upper layers of the atmosphere;

- "exoatmospheric" defence, also ground-based, to intercept missiles in ballistic flight above the atmosphere.

These defences should be coupled with long-range radar if an accurate estimate of the point of impact is required.

I will now give a brief description of these systems.

3.1. Satellite observation and detection of missile launchings

Slide 4 shows an example of architecture including two geostationary satellites which, suitably positioned, can:

- each in its own observation area, detect the launching of a missile and localise, grosso modo, its trajectory and area of impact;

- by combining the two, determine the trajectory of the attacking missile and indicate its area of impact with average accuracy.

Accuracy in determining the area of impact can be improved with long-range radar.

Such a system allows passive defence missions to be carried out (observation of proliferation, identification of the aggressor and warning) and also the detection and designation of targets by an active defence system.

3.2. Low-altitude (low-endoatmospheric) active defence

Slide 5 illustrates this architecture.

The intecking missiles with a range of less than about 1 000 km is effected at an altitude of between 5 and 25 km to defend specific sites or limited areas with a diameter of about 30 km.

Such defence is based on the SAMR/G system, Aster missiles and Arabel (or Empar) target designation radars, flanked by a mobile observation radar.

The alert is given by the geostationary satellites and the medium-range mobile radar designates the targets for the batteries.

One battery allows an area containing 500 000 inhabitants to be protected.

This portable and mobile system allows missions to be carried out to protect intervention forces and sites in friendly countries and in external theatres.

3.3. High-endoatmospheric active defence (Slide 6)

This defence consists of:

- the same satellite system as for the alert;

- medium-range radar that distinguishes between the various bodies linked with attacking missiles after they are decelerated by the atmosphere below 80 km.

It designates the target for the interceptors;

- the interceptor, weighing about a ton, is composed of a pilotable acceleration stage with a flight time of about 16 s and a terminal self-guided IR multispectral vehicle, piloted by force, allowing destruction by direct impact at an altitude of between 15 and 40 km.

The areas of action of a battery of interceptors have a range of between 100 and 600 km depending on the range of the attacking missile.

A network of twenty radars coupled with more than thirty batteries would allow Europe to be protected against attacks by missiles with a range of up to 3 000 km.

3.4. Exoatmospheric active defence (Slide 7)

This last possible defence system consists of:

- the same satellite system as for the alert;

- long-range radar for observing attacking missiles and target acquisition.

The interceptor is designed to intercept targets at an altitude above 100 km.

It consists of a two-stage solid-fuelled 1.5 ton missile and a terminal self-propelled infrared vehicle protected by a cover for passing through the dense layers of the atmosphere.

Such a system allows areas of more than 1 000 km in diameter to be defended.

Thus, five identical interceptors - in Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey, coupled with four radars in Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey - are enough to protect Europe.

The geostationary satellite system gives the alert for the whole area.

These bases allow the whole of Europe to be defended against missiles with a range of more than 800 km.

Additional defence against shorter-range missiles would be necessary.

4. Industrial feasibility

Industrial feasibility for this type of system is accessible to Europeans.

As you have been able to see, a wide variety of options is possible for building an anti-missile defence system.

Aerospatiale can help reflection on the specifications of requirements for optimisation in terms of the missions and protection sought (threat assessment and/or local, national or European protection).

Optimisation must be done in the light of global cost analyses (research and development, cost of procurement, use and system support).

This question will be dealt with by my colleague, Jacques Verdoux, of Thomson-CSF, a group with which Aerospatiale is associated in the framework of CoSyDe.

Producing this type of system is suitable for co-operation between European industries. Co-operation with the United States at technological level is also quite possible, a fortiori if the approach comes from the European side.

However, we must well realise that it takes about ten years to produce such a system whereas a few months are enough for a real threat to emerge; I am thinking in particular of the purchase of ready-to-use proliferation missiles and the transformation of existing missiles (e.g. the Iraqi Scuds).

The decision to produce all or part of the system will therefore have to be taken before the risk becomes a threat.

However, studies, development and deployment of a complete system are particularly suitable for slicing up into successive stages and hence the staggering of decision-taking in the light of the missions required in relation to the evolution of threats:

- identification of the aggressor;

- technical assessment of the threat;

- alert;

- protection.

Finally, the experimental assessment and demonstration of feasibility stages of a system, or component of a system, are of twofold interest:

- to show the technical and industrial feasibility of a European defence system;

- to ensure deterrent value vis-a-vis proliferating countries by showing Europe's capabilities and determination.


In the framework of CoSyDe, Aerospatiale and Thomson-CSF are combining their know-how obtained in the course of the development, production and maintenance in operational conditions of strategic, tactical and space weapons systems and the observation and detection systems of the French armed forces.

This experience in the areas of the design and industrialisation of such complex systems is unique in Europe.

The Alenia group in Italy (in Eurosam) and Deutsche Aerospace in Germany are already making a major, essential contribution in the area of anti-missile systems.

European industrial co-operation in this area is just waiting to be amplified.

To counter the threat to European interests stemming from the proliferation of ballistic missiles, Europe must make up its mind without delay since the present risk may be transformed into a concrete threat before the appropriate defence systems become operational.

This is why we propose that Western European Union launch the development of an experimental warning satellite followed by the development of a system of defence against low-altitude ballistic missiles and, finally, a technological study programme to prepare for future exo- and endoatmospheric systems.

WEU, which would at all times remain in control of the progress of the programme, would thus give Europe the means of showing its ability and determination to fight proliferation.