Missile Defense Briefing Report: No. 331

Israel's Iron Dome is headed for the high seas. Following the missile defense system's stellar performance during the Summer 2014 Gaza War - in which it successfully intercepted ninety percent of rockets fired by the Hamas terrorist group at Israeli population centers - defense manufacturer Rafael has begun developing a ship-based version, appropriately named C-Dome. The naval variant of Iron Dome will contain up to ten canister-stored interceptors that can be used to protect offshore patrol vessels, small corvettes and other small ships. Rafael executives estimate that the first prototype of the C-Dome will become available within a year. (Defense News, October 27, 2014)

After a five-month testing phase, Russia's Defense Ministry has announced that a new missile early warning base in the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad will come online by the end of 2014. According to Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov, the facility boasts a Voronezh-DM class radar capable of simultaneously tracking up to 500 targets traveling throughout almost all of Europe and the Atlantic Ocean. This capability puts the Kaliningrad site "at least on par with all foreign counterparts, while such qualities as precision make it stand out," Borisov told journalists. The facility appears to be a response to NATO plans for a Patriot base in northern Poland, just 50 miles from the enclave. (RIA Novosti, October 15, 2014)

After complications during its first test in March of last year, India's Nirbhay subsonic cruise missile has been successfully launched from a test site in Odisha. According to Delhi's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the test launch successfully met all expectations. India's government has described the Nirbhay as “a terrain-hugging missile capable of avoiding detection by ground-based radar with a range of 1,000 kilometers." Current plans call for the missile, which was developed as an Indian answer to Pakistan's Babur, to be deployed in air, land, and sea-basing modes.(Defense News, October 17, 2014)

Despite ongoing opposition from Russia, the U.S. and its allies are moving forward with plans to commission a new missile defense base in Deveselu, Romania. Once operational, the site will be integrated into NATO's expanding missile defense shield. The planned Romanian base will be the first to feature the "Aegis Ashore" ballistic missile defense system, a land-based version of the Aegis tracking system currently deployed on select American warships. Current plans call for the base to become operational by the end of 2015, with a second base in Poland set for completion in 2018. (Stars and Stripes, October 9, 2014)

Amid continuing provocations by North Korea, Washington is seeking to stabilize the Pacific region through the deployment of additional naval forces. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that American destroyers USS Benfold and USS Milius will arrive at the Yokosuka naval base in 2015 and 2017, respectively. The move, according to Hagel, is a response to "Pyongyang's pattern of provocative and destabilizing actions, including recent missile launches." An additional two ships will also be stationed in Japan by 2017. Before heading to Japan, each ship will be outfitted with an advanced version of the Aegis missile defense system, to help counter the ballistic missile threat from the DPRK. (Stars and Stripes, October 16, 2014)

A year after Taiwan received advanced missiles from the United States, the Taiwanese Navy has carried out a successful submarine test launch of its new capabilities. Two of the Harpoon anti-ship missiles were fired from the submarine Hai Hu during naval maneuvers in early October. With a range of 150 nautical miles, the missiles carry a clear political message; although political relations between Taiwan and mainland China have improved markedly over the past half-decade, officials in Taipei are still wary of the potential for conflict with Beijing - and are arming to deter such potential aggression. (Defense News, October 19, 2014)