By Torrie McAllister, USACEDecember 29, 2015
BUCHAREST, Romania (Dec. 29, 2015) -- U.S. and Romanian officials inaugurated the new Aegis Ashore Phase II radar site and missile battery during a ceremony in Bucharest, Dec. 18, declaring it "technically capable."
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, or USACE, Europe District has worked closely with the Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Navy and Romanian officials to finish the $170 million missile defense complex and meet a presidential mandate for operational capacity by the end of 2015.
Aegis sites in Romania and Poland are part of an effort to protect the United States, its deployed forces, European allies and partners against the growing threat of ballistic missiles from Iran and the Middle East.
The land-based ballistic missile defense facility in Romania relies on a system almost identical to that used on Navy Aegis-capable guided-missile destroyers and cruisers. It's designed to detect, track, engage and destroy ballistic missiles in flight.
The missile site is on an old 430-acre Romanian air base - redesignated as Naval Support Facility Deveselu in October 2014 - and will be manned by sailors rotating through for six months at a time. It is equipped with an Aegis SPY-1 radar system and vertical-launch missile system armed with long-range anti-air missiles.
U.S. Ambassador to Romania Hans Klemm announced that all major military components of the system are complete and have been handed over to the operational commander for future integration into NATO's ballistic missile defense architecture.
"Just barely two years ago, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Jim Miller and Romanian President Traian Basescu broke ground on the site at Deveselu," Klemm said. "Since that time, Romanian and U.S. officials have worked tirelessly to ensure that military construction on the site was completed on time. I'm happy to report that this ceremony today marks that all major military construction necessary for operating the system is complete and functioning.
"We now move on to the next phase of operational testing and evaluation, in preparation for its initial operating capacity declaration, as well as the NATO integration process."
The Navy expects the Aegis system in Romania will be fully operational next spring as part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach to ballistic missile defense, officials said.
Klemm said the project came in within budget, thanks in no small part to cooperation by the Romanian government. Three construction contractors played key roles in building the Aegis Ashore complex at Deveselu.
SC Glacial PROD SRL of Romania completed $3.3 million in site-activation work, constructing temporary offices, container housing units, a warehouse and vehicle-inspection area. The U.S. firm KBR Inc. assembled the $134 million complex, handling all construction, security fencing and storage, infrastructure maintenance and support services for Aegis Ashore. Meanwhile, the $33.3 million Navy support facilities and infrastructure for the U.S. military personnel, civilians and contractors, who will operate the site, were built by Zafer Construction.
Col. Matthew Tyler, the USACE Europe District commander, said the Corps is extremely proud to have helped the Navy and Romania complete the first Aegis Ashore missile defense base in Europe.
"It's a great accomplishment," he said. "However, there is a great deal more to be done. Specifically, we need to start work on Phase III, and we are excited to be in the process of awarding two major construction contracts in Poland and break ground at Redzikowo Air Base this spring."
USACE is again on a tight two-year timeline to deliver the Poland facility, district officials added. The work will include the Aegis complex and all base housing, offices, utilities, roads and other infrastructure necessary for the Navy to safely operate the system. It must be finished in 2018.