There is a need to possess at least ballistic missile defence (BMD) system in certain strategic points, defending against limited ballistic missile attack – it is a main conclusion from the “Ballistic Missile Defence Systems in East Asia and the Middle East – Conclusions for Poland” expert meeting, organized by the Casimir Pulaski Foundation, which was held on June 5, 2016 in the Foundation’s office.

During the panel, the panellists – Uzi Rubin from Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (Israel), former Deputy Chief of Staff of the ROC Air Force (Taiwan) general Tsai-Mai Tien and Tom Karako from Center for Strategic & International Studies (USA), as well as invited guests discussed Taiwanese and Israeli experiences regarding ballistic missile defence and challenges Poland faces on this issue. Although experiences of aforementioned states differ, it was highlighted that possessing such systems serves in reducing tensions between countries and – more broadly – in the area of deployment.

Participants agreed that BMD systems, apart from protecting against ballistic missile threat, serve as an instrument of diplomacy and enhance general capabilities of the armed forces. It was noted that in the case of Taiwan, the main threat is the People’s Republic of China (PRC), but also the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea contributes as a destabilising factor in the region. At the same time, countries such as Taiwan, United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea strive for stability. Moreover, taking into consideration overwhelming quantitative missile superiority of the PRC, missile defence system of Taiwan is tailored to defend the most important elements of chain of command, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, as well as ability of further continuation of war. On the other hand, the United States are seen by the Taiwanese authorities as a guarantor of Taiwan security and a natural partner in the process of modernization of their armed forces and BMD capabilities specifically.

In the context of Middle East, it was noted that the region is a kind of life action training ground regarding the use of ballistic missiles technologies and BMD systems. Israeli experiences show that having this kind of military equipment is a necessity in case of certain difficult situations a country can face and the costs of development and procurement of the BMD are smaller than the overall costs in terms of human losses as well as material, economic and political damage. Participants highlighted substantial technical effectiveness of the Iron Dome missile defence system and pointed that the use of even relatively ineffective early versions of Patriot system in 1991, were enough to stabilise the situation and are considered a strategic success.

In case of Poland, increasingly belligerent Russia was considered a main threat. Although our country is in a similar situation as Japan and South Korea regarding threat perception, it was pointed that being NATO and European Union member state drastically reduces possibility of any aggressive action from the Eastern neighbour. Like in the cases of Taiwan and Israel, participants highlighted importance of domestic defence industry in the development of BMD system and the need of cooperation with international partners from countries having experience in producing such systems.

During the panel, participants deliberated on a possibility of „technological leap” in Poland and abandonment of deploying BMD system and, instead, focusing on development of cutting-the-edge technologies, such as anti-aircraft and anti-missile laser systems. Other important topics were: political decision-makers ability to decide where and in what numbers BMD batteries should be deployed; the need of having early warning systems and radars able to track incoming missiles as well as integration of ballistic missile defence system to the overall defence architecture of a country. Moreover, it was emphasised that Poland should have its own multi-layer BMD system and it should be integrated into NATO missile defence architecture. In addition to that, participants discussed the dilemma between procuring BMD system off-the-shelf and developing a new one – pros and cons of both solutions were highlighted.

Author: Kamil Mazurek