European Phased Adaptive Approach Missile Defense: Phase IV Now 2022 or Later? (March 14, 2012)

For the past year or so, DoD and MDA officials have been saying that the deployment of the high-speed SM-3 Block IIB interceptor, the key element of the planned Phase IV of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA,) would be delayed from its originally planned date of 2020 to at least 2021.

For example, below are two excerpts from a February 22, 2013 presentation by MDA Director Vice Admiral James D. Syring, showing that while Phase IV is still in the “2020 timeframe” the Block IIB missile is now scheduled for 2021.


Figure is two excerpts from: VADM J. D. Syring (Director, Missile Defense Agency), “Ballistic Missile Defense Update,”  Briefing Slides, American Society of Naval Architects, February 22, 2013. 

However, it now appears that the Block II interceptor has slipped to at least 2022. On March 12, at a Conference at the Atlantic Council, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James N. Miller, in response to a question from Tom Collina of the Arms Control Association, stated that:

“The reality is that with the underfunding of our request from Congress for FY 12 and with the continuing resolution this year, our ability to deploy an SM-3 IIB has slipped at least two years to the right relative to what we had previously planned”

A video of Mr. Miller’s presentation (and the Q and A) at the conference on “The United States and Global Missile Defense” is available .

At the end of last week, the MDA removed its “Program Overview Briefing” slides (which dated from August 2012) from its “Downloadable Resources” on its website, replacing them with “Briefing slides coming soon.”  It will be interesting to see the year for Phase IV on these.

Leave a comment


  1. Allen Thomson

     /  March 14, 2013

    Very interesting. Just measuring from the picture and assuming the Block IIA is 21 inches in diameter, it appears that the Block IIB will be about 24 inches in diameter, consistent with earlier reports that it will be a different missile altogether.

    Any idea what the three redaction squares on the IIB figure are redacting?

    • Allen Thomson

       /  March 14, 2013

      Let me amend “that it will be a different missile altogether” to “that it might well be a different missile altogether.

      As far as I can tell, the Block IIB design process is still very much in media res.

  2. Allen Thomson

     /  March 15, 2013

    Wups, looks like discussions of Block IIB have been OBE:

    SecDef Hagel:

    And fourth, we are restructuring the SM-3 IIB program. As many of you know, we had planned to deploy the SM-3 IIB as part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach. The purpose was to add to the protection of the U.S. homeland already provided by our current GBIs against missile threats from the Middle East. The timeline for deploying this program had been delayed to at least 2022 due to cuts in congressional funding. Meanwhile, the threat matures. By shifting resources from this lagging program to fund the additional GBIs as well as advanced kill vehicle technology that will improve the performance of the GBI and other versions of the SM-3 interceptor, we will be able to add protection against missiles from Iran sooner while also providing additional protection against the North Korean threat.

  3. Yes, and the press conference after the announcement made it quite clear “restructuring” the Block IIB program means killing it.
    Maybe that’s why the image of the Block IIB is so blurry in the last set of briefing slides.


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