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Redzikowo, Poland

Washington and Warsaw began the construction of the ground-based Aegis battle management system in Poland 13 May 2016. Officials from the United States and Poland commemorated the onset of work to install a ground-based Aegis battle management system that will guide interceptor missiles to protect Europe from Iran. The Polish base is expected to become operational in 2018.

"Our partnership with Poland and Romania underwrites US military activities in the region and reflects our steadfast commitment to enhancing regional security," Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work said at an inauguration ceremony in Romania. "Countering the threat of ballistic missile attacks from outside the Euro-Atlantic area is a collective security challenge that requires collective defense."

The United States and Poland announced 15 September 2011 that an agreement to place land-based SM-3 interceptors at a small air base near the northern town of Redzikowo, Poland, part of a broader limited missile defense system for Europe, had entered into force. “The U.S. ballistic missile defense system will be located at Redzikowo Base as part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense in the 2018 timeframe,” a State Department announcement said. “This base represents a significant contribution by our two nations to a future NATO missile defense capability.”

The original agreement was signed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski on July 3, 2010, in Krakow. The announcement came two days after the United States and Romania agreed to place a similar limited missile interceptor system at an air base near Caracal. And the Turkish foreign ministry also announced 14 September 2011 that an early warning radar system will be stationed at a military installation in Kürecik as part of NATO’s missile defense system.

The SM-3 missile interceptors are not offensive weapons, but are kinetic interceptors that collide with potential incoming ballistic missiles. They carry no actual warhead. The White House said in a statement September 15 that President Obama is committed to protecting the United States, its deployed military forces, European allies and partners against the growing threat of ballistic missiles. In September 2009, on the recommendation of the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Obama announced the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) for limited missile defense to provide a missile shield sooner and more comprehensively than previous programs, the White House said.

A team of approximately a dozen American scientists and engineers travelled from the United States to Redzikowo, Poland, 28-29 November 2012 to survey the buildings on the base in preparation for the 2018 Aegis Ashore Ballistic Missile Defense facility. They represented the US Missile Defense Agency, Army Corps of Engineers and Naval Facilities Engineering Command. This survey followd up on past surveys. This survey helped the US Department of Defense to make the appropriate budgetary plans for construction at the site, which should begin at the Redzikowo base in 2016. There will be many more surveys and further US-Polish negotiations required before detailed planning starts later in 2013. The United States remains fully committed to all phases of the European Phased Adaptive Approach to Ballistic Missile Defense, including the future site in Redzikowo. This site survey is another example of the detailed cooperation which is on-going as both nations prepare for the Aegis Ashore site in Poland.

About 60 military experts from the Missile Defense Agency, U. S. European Command and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Europe visited the Redzikowo military complex from February 18 to 22, 2013. During the visit U.S. and Polish experts worked together on the design of the future missile defense site and on recommendations regarding geotechnical work planned for the near future. The visit also enabled the U.S. experts to familiarize themselves with the current state of the Redzikowo military complex and the benefits that will result from further design work.

The Bush Plan

Under previous plans, the European interceptor site was to have hosted up to ten silo-based long-range interceptors located in central Europe (2011-2013). On February 2, 2008 Poland's foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, said his country had agreed in principle to allow a U.S. missile defense system in the country.

In July 2007 Warsaw and Washington were reported to have determined the location of the future U.S. missile base in Poland and were to announce their decision in the near future. The location on the technical level had already decided, and there were a few issues, including the size of the base and manning levels for the site, were still being discussed. The Polish government never confirmed it, but the likely site for the base is Redzikowo Airport a disused airstrip in Slupsk near the Baltic Sea coast.

Ten interceptors were proposed to be based in Poland. These ground-based interceptors would be housed in underground silos in an interceptor field about the size of a football field. As with the interceptors based in Alaska and California, these interceptors were designed only for defensive purposes and employ small hit-to-kill vehicles (weighing about 75 kilograms) instead of explosives to destroy their targets at collision speeds in excess of 7 km per second and at more than 200 km above the earth's surface.

The interceptors planned for Poland were nearly identical to the three-stage interceptors based in the US except that they were a two-stage variant that is quicker, lighter, and better suited for the engagement ranges and timelines for Europe. The silos that house the ground-based interceptors had substantially smaller dimensions (e.g., diameter and length) than those used for offensive missiles, such as the U.S. Minuteman III ICBM. Any modification would require extensive, lengthy, and costly changes that would be clearly visible to any observer.

The ground-based interceptors were comprised of a booster vehicle and an exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV). Upon launch, the booster flies to a projected intercept point and releases the EKV which then uses on-board sensors (with assistance from ground-based assets) to acquire the target ballistic missile. The EKV performs final discrimination and steers itself to collide with the enemy warhead, destroying it by the sheer kinetic force of impact.


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