Cruise Missiles and NATO Missile Defense: Under the Radar? Proliferation Papers, No. 41, Spring 2012
The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that the threat of cruise missile proliferation is as equally challenging to NATO as the threat of ballistic missiles. Over the last two decades, the emergence of cruise missiles and UAVs as a threat has been slow, and governments, particularly the United States, have invested much less in cruise missile defenses than in ballistic missile defenses.
Since 2004, however, several new land-attack cruise missile programs have been launched, after a new narrative formed around their strategic value, and as a response to progress achieved by ballistic missile defense systems. Recent cruise missile developments, together with global interest in armed and unarmed UAVs, have worsened the existing threat and may continue to do so. These emerging threats, combined with existing or developing ballistic missile capabilities, could plausibly endanger NATO population centers and forces. While cruise missile defense programs have faced severe cuts in the past years, a range of options could still be implemented to address NATO's myopic view of missile defense.