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.