Rome, 20th-21st April 1993

Official Record

Office of the Clerk of the Assembly of WEU




Wednesday, 21st April 1993


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


Impact of ballistic missile defence on European military space programmes

Mr. RODOTA (General Manager, Alenia Spazia SpA).

The international scenario

In the early seventies, the United States developed a defence architecture designed to detect nuclear explosions and ballistic missile launches, primarily from the former USSR territory. The space segment of that architecture was based on early warning (EW) satellites, developed under the defence support programme (DSP), and on air force and navy communications satellites, required to route raw data to processing and decision centres and to broadcast the related missile launch warnings to missile batteries.

To meet the increasing communications demand, it was necessary to use during the Gulf war, in addition to the mentioned communications assets, the NASA tracking data relay satellite (TDRS), which has a specific capability of relaying high volumes of traffic.

Pushed by the Gulf war experience, the United States initiated the design of the next generation of early warning satellites, the follow-on early warning system (FEWS) and gave consideration to the advantages of the Brilliant Eyes satellites (an early warning low orbiting satellite constellation), designed in the past under the strategic defence initiative programme. A large number and variety of ballistic missiles are now in the inventories of several developing nations which continue to procure ballistic missiles for their increasing offensive effectiveness: longer range, shorter flight time and flexible payloads, which can vary from conventional to nuclear. All of Europe can be considered under threat of the medium- /long-range ballistic missiles in the inventories of neighbouring potentially hostile developing countries. The southern European nations are particularly threatened because they are within the ranges of the short-range ballistic missiles also.

At present in Europe, some nations and the European Space Agency (ESA) are developing military communications, data relay and surveillance satellites which could be the components of a ballistic missile defence architecture.

Space components of the ballistic missile defence architecture For their capability to detect missile launches from the hostile territory, the Gulf war demonstrated that early warning satellites are the capstone of a ballistic missile defence architecture.

The related processing and decision centre and the communication satellites performing, respectively, the analysis of the data received and ensuring the timely flow of data collected and the subsequent distribution of warnings to missile batteries are both of vital importance to the ballistic missile defence architecture.

In addition, the role that can be played by surveillance and imagery satellites is of crucial importance as they can provide the intelligence information necessary to prevent or neutralise the missile before its launch.

The ballistic missile defence requirement is surfacing in a European scenario where many military and civilian national and international space programmes have been launched (no one of which appears dedicated to ballistic missile defence) and where a full co-ordination of space activities is yet to be achieved.

The design of the European ballistic missile defence architecture

For the high cost and for the technological capability required, no European nation has the possibility to field individually a credible ballistic missile defence system at the moment. Such a system could, in fact, be implemented only through a joint European effort. To achieve that, the Assembly of Western European Union should take the lead, establish co-operative strategies and initiate the carrying out of joint European studies. Under the WEU aegis, European nations' designers, developers and operators have to meet with the aim of:

- Establishing the performances of the early warning satellite system. Based on United States experience, the group should identify the coverage required, the missile booster plume detection probability and the unavoidable false alarm percentage, the unacceptable delay in detecting the missile launches, the missile speed and the launch position. The group should, moreover, determine the volume of data transferred from the early warning system to the processing and decision centre and the communications capacity required to broadcast warnings to missile batteries. The group should identify also the most suitable and the most cost-effective orbital positions for the early warning satellites considering the geostationary and the low orbit approach, indicating the size of the constellation needed to meet the European early warning requirements.

- Identifying the components required to complete the ballistic missile defence architecture. The WEU group should, moreover, study the remaining aspects of the ballistic missile defence, namely:

. the most suitable location for the processing and decision centre, which could be collocated with the data relay satellite centre;

. the information and the algorithm required to discriminate missile launchers from false alarms;

. the data relay and communications capacity required by the system; . the format of warning signals required to permit their rapid distribution down to tactical forces for their possible self-defence actions;

. weapon systems able to neutralise the incoming missile as far as possible from the European territory and their most suitable locations;

. the surveillance and intelligence information and actions required to neutralise the ballistic missile before its launch.

- Harmonising European national and international space programmes incorporating the early warning satellites and the related communications requirements. It appears that the various space programmes could contribute to ballistic missile defence although in most cases the programmes are designed to fulfil specific national or small group of nations requirements. A credible ballistic missile defence system, beyond its early warning dedicated satellite, should rely also on other space assets like imagery, surveillance, data relay and communications satellites. The problem of neutralising an incoming ballistic missile cannot be relegated to the detection of the ballistic missile launch and to the subsequent weapon reaction. Its solution requires the availability and the possibility of exploiting the capabilities of the other parent satellites.

The group should therefore draft a survey of European military and civilian space programmes and consider, in particular, the benefits that can be brought to the ballistic missile defence system by the availability of intelligence information collected by remote sensing satellites and the communications capability available to the system on national, European and ESA data relay satellites. If the intelligence information obtainable and the capacity on communications and data relay satellites is not considered sufficient, the group, under the WEU aegis, should be able to request the appropriate modifications to accommodate the European ballistic missile defence requirements.

- Exploring the possibility of carrying out co-operative efforts with the United States on the development of new enhanced systems and the way to achieve interoperability.

The early warning satellites will probably have technological challenges that could be faced only with strong Euro-American co-operation. A European policy which would limit its research and development activities to Europe should, in fact, be refused.

The group should therefore consider co-operative efforts with the United States on system components identified at technological risk and assess the convenience of participating, if invited, in the United States advanced programme, Brilliant Eyes, addressing the defence against the ballistic missiles of almost the entire world, particularly necessary when European armed forces are deployed outside the usual area of operations.

To avoid overlapping between ballistic missile defence systems, the group should, moreover, act in co-ordination with United States and NATO groups addressing the same subject and carry out the actions required to achieve the system's interoperability.


In conclusion, the space component of a reliable and fast- reacting ballistic missile defence system, beyond the dedicated early warning satellites (in a geostationary position or low orbit), should rely on the information provided by deployed imagery and surveillance satellites and on communications capacity available on communications and data relay satellites. To provide Europe with such a system, WEU should take the lead and convene working groups formed by military and industrial experts tasked to address the abovementioned issues with the aim of designing, or jointly developing with the United States, a credible European ballistic missile defence system. For the programmes now under study and in-house development; namely, the surveillance satellite, Helios, the WEU remote- sensing satellite, the data relay satellite, Artemis, and the communications satellite, Sicral, Alenio Spazio is fully qualified and willing to contribute to the development of a ballistic missile defence system for Europe.

That concludes my presentation and I thank you for your attention. Are there any questions?

General STAINIER (Commandant of the Institut superieur de defense, Belgium) in response to interesting and convincing statements about European anti-ballistic missile systems, recalled that the United States was urging Europeans, particularly through NATO and the defence ministries, to join a worldwide system. The United States also believed that its solution was the only one which would help Europe. He therefore wondered what arguments that morning's speakers would put to the European ministers who would have to decide on the best system for Europe.

Lord FINSBERG (Vice-President of the WEU Assembly) recalled that the first speaker had said that it would be possible to identify the starting point of a missile attack to within a few kilometres and this would allow the launching-site and, possibly, the command centre to be destroyed. As a politician, he wished to know what was meant by a few kilometres since this could be anything from three to fifty kilometres and this could mean that perhaps 100000 people might be killed.

Mr. ROCHE (Director, Systemes Matra Defense Espace, France) answered that the number of kilometres was in fact very few since with two stereoscopic positioned satellites, the launching-point could be determined from between three to five kilometres. The impact point depended mainly on the distance of the flight, be it 70, 100, 300 or 3 000 kilometres. To take an average Scud, with a range of 300 kilometres, the point of impact could be determined to within 40 to 60 kilometres.

To make a counter-attack on the launching-site which was determined to within a few kilometres, it would be necessary to deploy tactical sensors such as airborne radar or Orchidee that was being built by Thomson-CSF in France or perhaps ground radars. The counter-attack would have to be launched as quickly as possible because mobile launchers could be moved. In answer to General Stainer, he said that co-operation with the United States should be made as simple as possible. The United States had spent 20 years modernising and developing their global system. The defence support programme already existed. One did not have to be extreme in the sense of procuring everything from the United States or doing everything oneself in Europe. The wisest course would be to do a minimum in Europe and have a maximum that was interoperational with the United States system. It was not essential to have a totally- integrated system and to have to always pass through that system. Each country could have its own part and other parts would be interoperational so that each country could retain political freedom to take the decision regarding interoperability between the national, European and United States systems. Europe had all the technology for its own early warning system. Spot, and Helios next year, provided the observation technology necessary for detecting launches and vast areas could be covered, although Europe did not need to survey the whole earth. Observation and surveillance could be conducted in specific areas near to Europe with a very high degree of precision and the Americans could draw upon our information input. Co-operation was necessary at all levels and while one partner might have a more complex and ambitious system than others, all participants should be able to benefit from all contributions.

Dr. PAYNE (Professor of National Security Studies, Georgetown University, President of the National Instutute for Public Policy, United States) wished to specify the United States' position towards co-operation in a global protection system. It encouraged a very flexible approach to co-operation including the possibility of having an indigenously developed European system, interoperable with United States components, even including the provision of DSP data to indigenously developed European systems. Unless the United States' position had changed very recently, it was very compatible with the flexible interoperable approach to common western defence presented this morning.

Mr. NATIVI (Editing Director, Rivista Italiana di Difesa (RID)) believed the industrial attitude to Europe's true ability to raise the necessary financial resources was rather optimistic. Did Europe have anything like $14 billion for a European anti-ballistic missile defence programme at a time when defence budgets were being reduced everywhere? He had hoped that industry would have been more realistic in terms of the present economic situation. Was there any point in duplicating what had already been done in the United States or in the Soviet Union? A comprehensive programme should be developed to achieve short-term low-cost results to meet the real threat that existed, rather than thinking about duplicating on a smaller scale what had already been done in the United States and the Soviet Union.

Mr. RODOTA (General Manager, Alenia Spazio SpA, Italy) agreed with Mr. Nativi and felt that it was not right to launch a major programme from the very start. Present industrial capability and the programmes already under way had to be examined in terms of the existing threat and the serious budgetary problems of all European countries. Money had to be spent wisely. Defence budgets had to be concentrated on current threats rather than on nebulous threats. To be flexible, maximum investment was not necessary immediately but some funds should be made available so that industry could make a careful analysis of the situation.

Mr. ROCHE (Director, Systemes Matra Defense Espace, France) wished to clarify the figures he had given. The sequence of investment should be progressive and the sum necessary for early warning, communications and detection would initially be only $240 million, not $10 billion. He could provide the technical characteristics if necessary. The latter figure related to global protection for the whole of Europe which he thought was totally unrealistic. There was a whole range of possibilities between the maximum and minimum figures for developing counter- attack systems and this would cost about $400 or $500 million. To develop local theatre protection would depend on how much money each country wished to invest. Industry was realistic because it had to pay its way. It was always ready, however, to provide the necessary technical, scientific and financial information regarding its research.

Mr. MINICUCCI (Amministratore Delegato, Telespazio, Italy) in view of all the budgetary difficulties in Europe Italy was advocating greater integration of investment in outer space for civilian purposes. Although Europe invested over 50% for civilian purposes, this was less than half the figure for the United States with which co-operation should be developed. Since European investment was only 5% of United States investment, Europe could never reach that level. Not even the Soviet Union had been able to do so. All such matters had become global as illustrated by the problem of Yugoslavia. All aspects of defence should therefore be integrated.

(Mr. Lenzer, Vice-Chairman of the Technological and

Aerospace Committee, took the Chair)