This animation illustrates how NATO’s ballistic missile defence capability is designed to work in the hypothetical scenario. NATO conducts thorough planning to make the best use of all weapons systems and censors under its command.

Ballistic missiles pose an increasing threat to Allied populations, territory and deployed forces. Over 30 countries have, or are acquiring, ballistic missile technology that could eventually be used to carry not just conventional warheads, but also weapons of mass destruction. The proliferation of these capabilities does not necessarily mean there is an immediate intent to attack NATO, but it does mean that the Alliance has a responsibility to take this into account as part of its mission to protect its populations.

In early 2010, NATO acquired the first phase of an initial capability to protect Alliance forces against ballistic missile threats. At the November 2010 NATO Summit in Lisbon, NATO’s leaders decided to develop a ballistic missile defence (BMD) capability to pursue its core task of collective defence. To this end, they decided that the scope of the current Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence (ALTBMD) programme’s command, control and communication capabilities will be expanded beyond the capability to protect forces to also include NATO European populations and territory. In this context, the US European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) and other possible national contributions were welcomed as a valuable national contribution to the NATO ballistic missile defence architecture.
NATO’s work on BMD started in the early 1990s in response to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, including missiles. The initial focus was on protecting deployed NATO troops (Theatre Missile Defence), but work was expanded in 2002 to include considerations of the protection of population centres and territory (Territorial Missile Defence).

Source: NATO