How Romania’s growing Patriot program anchors its layers of defense

The delivery of additional Patriots in 2022 reinforces Romania’s security strategy

When Romania receives additional Patriot fire units in 2022, it will become the first country to field the newest version of the battle-proven and modernized system, which is made by Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a business of Raytheon Technologies.

Romania set up its first Patriot system in late 2020 as a key capability in fortifying its air and missile defense—safeguarding its borders and helping to secure NATO’s Eastern flank. The acquisition of additional Patriot units marks another key milestone in the NATO member’s approach.  

In part one of our series on Romania, we examined the most recent advancement in the Patriot program: a “Post-Deployment Build” that involved testing and evaluation of incremental hardware and software updates made to the Patriot system. 
Now, in part two, Tom Laliberty, vice president of Land Warfare & Air Defense, a mission area of Raytheon Missiles & Defense, looks at what this development means for the country’s overall defense.

Tom Laliberty is vice president of Land Warfare & Air Defense, a mission area of Raytheon Missiles & Defense.

Tom Laliberty is vice president of Land Warfare & Air Defense, a mission area of Raytheon Missiles & Defense.

Q: What role does Patriot play in Romania’s defense strategy?

A: Romania is implementing a “layered defense” model, which starts with focusing on the threat. There’s no denying that there is a continued proliferation of ballistic missile and “air breathing” threats that include cruise missiles, aircraft, helicopters and uncrewed aerial systems (UAS), or drones. 

It’s impractical to rely on any single air defense system to take on that entire spectrum of threats. It might be effective, in theory, but not necessarily efficient. There are systems that deal with various threat types, at appropriate ranges and altitudes. In a layered, defense-in-depth approach, you’re mapping out the right combination – or complement – of systems and capabilities that can work together and match the solution – or effector – to the threat. 

You don’t want to use a multimillion-dollar missile to intercept a basic UAS that costs the adversary a couple thousand dollars to make. By having integrated systems across the layers that communicate with one another, they can best match the defensive solution against the threat in a cost- and operationally effective manner. Generally, high-value sophisticated threats require high-value interceptors while low-value threats can be dealt with using less costly solutions. 

That’s the strategy for Romania. The Aegis Ashore Weapons System that the United States is operating there as part of its European Phased Adaptive Approach, the defense of Europe, deals with long-range ballistic missiles. Beneath that, Patriot covers the lower-tier volume to engage tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and a wide range of aircraft, including helicopters. 

Q: To what extent would you characterize Patriot as Romania’s first line of defense?

A: Starting with Patriot provides capability over a broad spectrum of threats. It is scalable, enabling defense of the highest priority assets immediately and adding more fire units in the future to address additional assets. Romania wisely decided to select the combat-proven Patriot for this mission. Patriot defends against the widest range of threats: ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, aircraft and advanced UAS, and can deal with those threats in very large numbers. Then, adding other systems to Patriot delivers defense-in-depth in ways that provide cost-effective solutions as threats evolve. 

Then, there’s Naval Strike Missile Coastal Defense Systems (NSM CDS), which the Romanian government recently decided to acquire. So, while Patriot provides defense, the NSM CDS that we make in partnership with the Norwegian company Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KDA) will serve as deterrence against adversarial incursions into Romania’s territorial waters. In fact, Romania will soon join the U.S. Navy and two other NATO allies in operating this latest generation anti-ship cruise missile available today.

Looking ahead, we’re working with the Romanian government potentially to add NASAMS (National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System), which we build in collaboration with KDA, to cover short- and medium-range threats below Patriot’s layer. NASAMS is currently owned by 12 nations, including the U.S. and five other NATO countries. This system consists of the Sentinel radar, KDA’s Fire Distribution Center (FDC) and a family of effectors, which provide capability covering a wide range of threats. 

The other important aspect is that Romania is part of a very strong regional grouping for NATO coalition operations. And, as a NATO member, Romania brings to the alliance the significant benefits of its interoperability as one of the 17 Patriot partner nations worldwide. These countries all operate the same Patriot system, which is frequently upgraded over time, and they each contribute to the kinds of developments we now see in the unit’s latest iteration, called 8.1, through the recent Post-Deployment Build, or PDB.

Layered missiledefense

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Q: What other capabilities are being considered to complete the required layers of defense?

Below the short- and medium-range layers, we provide solutions, such as the KuMRFS radar and Coyote interceptors as well as the High Power Microwave and High-Energy Laser Weapon capabilities to counter the threat of high-performance UAS. In essence, such complementary systems provide a robust and layered architecture of defense. And, integrating them with a command-and-control system ensures the coordination needed to determine and engage the best capability for each and any given threat.

Q: How important are the industrial partnerships that Raytheon Missiles & Defense maintains in Romania?

A: As a strategic partner for Romania, we recognize the importance of engaging with local industry. Raytheon Missiles & Defense currently has partnerships with Aerostar and Romaero supporting Patriot. As we work to introduce NASAMS, we’re focused on putting more work content in Romania recognizing an overarching goal of Romania to leverage defense programs to stimulate the economy and create jobs there.

Meanwhile, in the bigger picture, Romania’s industrial participation puts it in the global supply chain for Raytheon Missiles & Defense. That means the technology and work that Romanian companies contribute to programs in their own country make them a qualified supplier to our entire set of partners across the world that use that technology. 

This is the second of a two-part series on Romania’s defense strategy amid recent advances in its Patriot program. To read part one, click here.