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)


Observation and warning: mastery of complex systems

(The sitting was opened at 10.05 a.m. with Mr. Lopez

Henares, Chairman of the Technological and Aerospace Committee, in the Chair)

Mr. ROCHE (Director, Systemes Matra Defense Espace, France). Requirements of an anti-ballistic defence system

A complete ATBM system has a number of technical and operational functions meeting several types of requirement: The architectures being studied by Matra Defense Espace with the United States and other countries include a satellite or series of satellites that observe the strong light emitted by the propellant of the attacking missile as soon as it emerges from the clouds and until the propellant is extinguished. These satellites therefore detect the departure of the missile. They then estimate the area of impact to within a few dozen kilometres and hence whether or not it may be hostile. Finally, they determine the launching area to within a few kilometres.

Radars then follow the missile and its warhead in order to improve positioning and estimated impact measurements.

A system of battle conduct may then be envisaged, using various very long- and long-range anti-missile missiles to destroy the hostile missile in flight with a good chance of success. Consideration may also be given to a system of counter- attack, by rapid management of accurate bombing, generally from the air, to destroy the vector, stocks and command systems before these systems, which are often mobile, move.

Apart from these purely defensive features, such a system will provide information: it will give valuable information on the state of progress of operational systems in proliferating countries by following each test carried out. It will also show heads of state of countries which have a nuclear deterrent which country actually launched a nuclear missile and not another country, this being a sine qua non of deterrence in the case of a coalition between several proliferating countries. The system also keeps a detailed record of the anti-missile battle when it takes place. In particular, in the case of active defence at European or NATO level, each country will, by means of such a system, be able to assess the degree of effectiveness of the means of defence deployed. Such a system can also launch and issue the alert: It will alert civilians and military and allow them to protect themselves rapidly (shelters, clothing, masks). The psychological and social value of the alert is important. Following Israel's experience during the Gulf war, it has been confirmed that, in the event of conflict and an effective risk of chemical attack, the population, knowing there is a reliable warning system, will continue its activities (civil or defence) as long as the alert has not been sounded and stops them only when it does sound. It has been shown that, if there is no system to give warning, particularly in case of nuclear or chemical attack, the activities of the country or region will come to a complete standstill after a few days, with extremely serious risks for the population.

Technical sub-systems and their cost

Technically, the complete system comprises a number of sub- systems such as the satellite, radars, command and communications systems, missiles and warning arrangements. Each of the abovementioned requirements is met by a combination of these elements, which may be more or less complex and more or less costly. The following table shows the relevant combinations according to requirements and the cost.

It can thus be seen that:

- the simplest system, costing about $240 M in its pre- operational version and about $2 000 M in its operational version, already fulfils all intelligence functions relating to proliferation, alert and passive protection of individuals and safeguarding economic activity and indication of who is firing, followed by the anti-missile battle when there is complete NATO or European defence; - at an extra cost of about $150 M, it is possible to have command systems managing means of bombardment; the need for counter-attack and counter-battery is met if means of attack such as bombers, accurate missiles or bombs also exist;

- conversely, about $2 000 M extra is required if some theatre protection is to be ensured by anti-missile missiles;

- and between $3 000 and 10 000 M extra for Europe to be protected fairly effectively. The hypotheses used by Matra Defense Espace for working out these estimates and the coefficients of attribution and permeability obviously still have to be discussed.

Specific requirements of European nations

- It would seem that most European nations are interested in information about proliferation and the conduct of the anti- missile battle.

- It would also seem that many are interested in information about "who is firing? or "who has fired?". However, European countries with nuclear deterrents are no doubt far more interested.

- The need for warning for passive defence in the theatre is mainly of interest to countries which may become involved in military actions outside Europe.

- The need for warning for the passive defence of civilians and protecting the economy for survival is of interest to countries believing there is a risk of nuclear or chemical attack on their own territory.

- The need to be able to counter-attack effectively and prevent other raids exists in countries that may be involved in actions in external theatres or that run the risk of invasion or of attacks close to their frontiers.

- Finally, the active protection requirements that are by far the most costly: the nations interested are those which may be involved in actions in external theatres or may be invaded or attacked and find the cost-effectiveness of complete defence worthwhile. Thus, each European nation can define its own requirements and priorities, depending into which of the following categories it fits:

- nuclear or non-nuclear nations;

- nations wishing or not wishing to be involved in external theatres; - nations believing they run a risk of close attack or invasion; - nations believing they run a risk of direct attack.

Possible deployment scenario

The following scenario may be imagined for development and deployment: There would be a first stage known as 1-1, during which a few European countries invest in an experimental, semi-operational warning system consisting of an optical payload on a geostationary satellite and its ground processing. Let us call it EUROWISAT (European warning information satellite).

At the same time, all European countries would build a ground-based communications network for warning and information on the characteristics of missile launchings. Let us call it EUROWINS (European warning information network system).

These EUROWISAT and EUROWINS systems may be interoperable with United States systems such as DSP, FEWS or Brilliant Eyes.

In 1-2, a more operational stage would be reached in which inter alia the space payload would be replaced by a group of two or three geostationary satellites. Each country could then develop its own means of counter- attack or defence, but there might be a stage 2 in which European countries developed a common system of counter-attack for theatre operations outside the European theatre by linking EUROWINS, national systems as required and a common management and command system.

Finally, in the longer term, there would be a stage 3 at European level allowing defence of theatre forces (stage 3-1) and of the territory (stage 3-2) in which national defence systems might be interoperable between each other and with those of the United States.