Ballistic missile defence - selected physical-technical aspects

Peter Sequard-Base


After the mission of NATO in Afghanistan, the topic of ballistic missile defence represents the only Article 5 project of the western defence alliance. This article regulates the “case of alliance”. The following statements are supposed to offer a brief outline on some of the most important physical-technical aspects of ballistic missile defence. For more than ten years, the Armaments and Defence Technology Agency (ADTA) of the Austrian Armed Forces has been dealing with the technological problems concerning ballistic missile defence, and therefore has developed the computer simulation model RAAB, with the help of which the kinematics of the processes can be analysed. Furthermore, every year - up to now together with the Institute of Political Sciences of the University of Innsbruck - the Armaments and Defence Technology Agency organises the interdisciplinary “Austrian Workshop for Ballistic missile Defence”, which focusses above all on experts from the German speaking countries, but which has been attended by numerous guests from the Central European area as well. All these activities arise from the striving for achieving a minimum of insight into this important project of NATO. Starting with general missile parameters, the discussion of the different trajectory phases of a ballistic missile, the term ballistic missile defence architecture, as well as the analysis of some selected detailed problems, now the attempt shall be made to demonstrate the subject matter of ballistic missile defence from a physical-technical point of view. Exemplarily the installation and commissioning of a silo field with SM3 Block1 B defence missiles, which - within the framework of the EPAA (European Phased Adaptive Approach) - is scheduled for 2015 inRomanianear Deveselu is mentioned here. This Block 1 will be the first operational launching platform for SM3-Missiles ashore, which are normally launched from AEGIS-ships. At the moment, the SM3 Block1 A defence missiles are installed on the ships. The Block1 B version, as it is intended for Deveselu, is a derivative of the Block1 A version, the main difference being in the detector system of the so-called Kill Vehicle. The Block1 A version works with an infrared-detector detecting in one single wavelength range only, whereas the Block1 B version can work in two different wavelength ranges. The advantage of detecting in two wavelength ranges is, among other things, the possibility to measure the temperature of the target, thus to spot troubling targets - no matter whether deliberately or not, so that the probability of approaching the dangerous hostile missile is increased.