HELSINKI — Denmark has moved one step closer to determining the precise content of its contribution to NATO's ballistic missile defense (BMD) system.
Denmark's Defense Acquisition and Logistics Organization (DALO), which operates within the Ministry of Defence (MoD), has contracted domestic defense systems group Terma to deliver research and advisory support within the BMD and Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) domains.
The Terma agreement is directly related to a decision by the MoD to upgrade at least one of the Danish Navy's Iver Huitfeldt- class frigates to a BMD sensor role. The underlying intention is to offer this capability to the NATO BMD system.
The cost of the frigate upgrade program is expected to run between $100-150 million.
Once fully upgraded with an IAMD sensor, the Iver Huitfeldt-class frigates will provide a robust and important contribution to the NATO BMD system, said Thomas Blom, Terma's senior vice president of Command, Control & Sensor Systems.
"Because they were designed to be prepared for this mission, the frigate-based BMD offering to NATO is the most affordable option with the lowest risk for a country such as Denmark. At the same time, it provides, the only realistic pathway to a later engagement capability," Blom said.
The contract marks Terma's latest engagement in the BMD area. The company was part of a technology-driven Danish-US industrial cooperation deal in 2004 that covered the upgrade of the US Thule Ballistic Missile Early Warning Radar System (Thule BMEWS) in northwestern Greenland.
Situated some 700 miles north of the Arctic Circle, and strategically positioned between Europe and North America, the Thule BMEWS at Thule Air Base has become a fundamental element of U.S. defense strategy and missile defense architecture.
Thule BMEWS has the capacity to detect, track and provide tactical warning and attack assessment of ballistic missiles launched against the United States, Canada and Europe.
Denmark's planned contribution and role in NATO's BMD system has resulted in a cooling in relations with Moscow. In March 2015, Russia's ambassador to Denmark, Mikhail Vanin, warned that Danish frigates carrying NATO BMD radars and sensors could be targeted by nuclear missiles.
"I do not believe that Danish people fully understand the consequences of what may happen if Denmark joins the American-led missile defense system. If Denmark joins, Danish warships become targets for Russian nuclear missiles," Vanin said.
Russia is strongly opposed to the NATO BMD shield, which was launched in 2010 and is due to be fully operational by 2025.
"Russia's reaction is threatening and unnecessary. The NATO missile shield is not directed at Russia. It will exist as an intruder alarm against threats emanating from outside the Euro-Atlantic area. It poses no danger to Russia," said Mette Gjerskov, a member of the Danish parliament's Foreign Policy Committee.
The BMD system is intended as a next step by NATO as the alliance moves toward creating a territorially deeper missile shield capability in support of collective defense.
Denmark is not the only NATO member nation offering contributions to the BMD system program, according to NATO. The alliance said other countries are undergoing development or acquisition of further BMD assets, such as upgraded ships with ballistic missile-defense capable radars; ground-based air and missile defense systems, and advanced detection and alert capability.
Terma has previously delivered command and control systems for sea-based Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) to the Danish Navy. Orders included the C-Flex command and control system that provides the Navy's primary ship classes with an integrated air and missile defense capability, in addition to enhanced simultaneous situational awareness of AAW and BMD threats.