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Can NATO's Missile Defence System Protect Bulgarian Territory?

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Social Science

NATO is building a missile defence system to defend European territory and populations against the growing threat of ballistic missiles. In May 2012, the system achieved interim capability, which officials claim can currently defend Bulgaria's entire territory. This study investigates these assertions from a technical perspective and examines whether planned near-term advances in defence capability could improve Bulgarian protection against ballistic missile attacks. To this end, a simple model for evaluating the ability of defences intercept medium-range ballistic missiles during their mid-course phase of flight is developed. A Mathematica programme calculates hostile missile trajectories for pre-defined targets and estimates the battlespace available for intercept based on the geographic location and technical characteristics of defence assets and available lead time. Results are visualised in Google Earth. To evaluate the effectiveness of defences, scenarios involving attacks on Bulgarian high-value assets by Iranian missiles - the most probable near-term threat - are considered. Calculations based on publicly available data show that US assets, planned for deployment by 2015 under the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), would not be able to reach Iranian missiles flying on depressed trajectories toward Bulgarian targets. These findings suggest that the current missile defence architecture would not be able to provide full coverage of Bulgarian territory in the near term.

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date2013

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