US to deploy missile-armed ships to Europe

The United States will initially deploy Aegis ships equipped with missile interceptors to Europe.

US to deploy missile-armed ships to Europe

The United States will initially deploy Aegis ships equipped with missile interceptors to help defend Europe and U.S. forces against threats from Iran and others, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday.

Gates said that as part of a revamped U.S. missile shield program the Pentagon planned to deploy land-based interceptors and was exploring the option of stationing some of them in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Marine Corps General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Pentagon also envisioned eventually deploying a land-based radar as part of the system which would "ideally be based in the Caucasus".

The Bush administration had planned to station 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic.

He told reporters at the Pentagon the decision to change plans was based mainly on technological developments and a shift in intelligence assessments to meet short and medium-range missile "threats" posed by Iran.

But he said the change should also address concerns voiced by Moscow, which opposed the previous plan.

Gates said deploying ships in the near term with SM-3 interceptors would provide the flexibility to move U.S. missile capabilities as may be needed.

Ships with Aegis interceptor systems are capable of blowing up ballistic missiles above the atmosphere. The system can track over 100 targets, military officials said.


Cartwright said the Pentagon envisioned keeping three ships at any given time in and around the Mediterranean and the North Sea "to protect areas of interest," with the possibility of surging additional ships to the region as needed.

A second phase of the system, Gates said, involved deploying upgraded, land-based SM-3s starting in about 2015.

He said consultations on deploying land-based SM-3s had begun with Poland and the Czech Republic.


Reuters

Last Mod: 18 Eylül 2009, 13:18
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