Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
April 16, 2007
United States Missile Defense: Technical Details
The United States is planning to field ten U.S. long-range ground-based missile defense interceptors in Poland and a mid-course radar in the Czech Republic in order to counter the growing threat of missile attacks from the Middle East.
Proposed Footprint of the System
The United States estimates approximately 200 military, Government civilians, and support contractors will be required to operate the interceptor site. The United States estimates approximately 150 personnel will be required to operate the radar site.
Technical Aspects of the Interceptor Site
A total of 10 interceptor missiles in underground silos would be located at the facility in Poland. The interceptor base will require facilities for electronic equipment for secure communications, missile assembly, storage, maintenance and security.
The ballistic missile defense interceptors that would be installed are for purely defensive purposes and have no offensive capability. They carry no explosive warheads of any type, relying instead on their kinetic energy alone to collide with and destroy incoming warheads. Silos constructed for deployment of defensive interceptors are substantially smaller than those used for offensive missiles. Any conversion would require extensive modifications, thus precluding the possibility of converting the interceptor silos for use by offensive missiles.
The odds of damage or injury from an intercept are very small. European interceptors would not be used for flight tests, and would only launch during an actual attack on the United States or Europe. The small risk of debris posed by an intercept pales in comparison to the alternative - which is a conventional or WMD missile attack on a populated area.