For the first time, the United States and NATO plan to test an operational link between the NATO missile defense system and the U.S. system, which is in the early stages of deployment to Europe. NATO officials disclosed the plans for the tests following the March 26 to April 2 deployment of the USS Monterey, an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense cruiser, to Antwerp, Belgium.
The virtual link between the U.S. European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) missile defense system and NATO’s Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence (ALTBMD) program has already been tested in a battle laboratory environment and will soon be tested in an operational environment. The operational test is expected to be conducted this summer, and if successful, will prove for the first time that the command, control and communications (C3) elements of the two systems are compatible.
“The weapons systems and sensors in the EPAA, including Aegis cruisers, are already part of the planned ALTBMD program and architecture, and integration efforts have already been initiated. The interfaces exist and have been tested,” says Alessandro Pera, head of NATO’s ALTBMD program. The upcoming test will be the first time the two systems are formally linked, and it is expected to lead to the establishment of a permanent link over the course of 2011.
The ALTBMD Integration Testbed at NATO’s Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A) facility in The Hague, the Netherlands, paved the way for the upcoming test. “We have a testbed framework, which allows us to create a virtual environment, allows us to interject a scenario and then record the results of the test,” explains a NATO program manager. “We have a way to create a simulated communications environment, disruptions to communications and what have you. We use this testbed not only to test how our systems work but also to test their interfaces with the systems contributed to the NATO capability by the various nations.”