U.S. Begins Fielding European Missile Shield

The United States is set next week to deploy to the Mediterranean Sea a warship outfitted with advanced ballistic missile tracking radar as part of initial steps in the establishment of a European missile shield, the Associated Press reported (see GSN, Nov. 12, 2010).

Defense Department Nuclear and Missile Defense Policy Principle Director John Plumb said yesterday the guided missile cruiser USS Monterey would depart from Norfolk, Va., for a half-year turn patrolling Mediterranean waters. The ship is outfitted with advanced Aegis radar technology (see GSN, Jan. 5, 2010).

Deployment of the USS Monterey sets in motion President Obama's "phased adaptive approach" for European missile defense. Announced in September 2009, the program involves the gradual deployment of sea- and land-based missile interceptors around Europe that would be supported by radar systems on land and at sea. The U.S. system would be incorporated into a wider NATO antimissile effort.

"Here is our first concrete demonstration of our commitment to the missile defense of our deployed forces, allies and partners in Europe," Plumb said. "We said we were going to do it, and now we're doing it."

Still to come in 2011 are the establishment of U.S. radar bases in southern Europe. Plumb said Obama officials continue to meet with prospective host countries, though the final locations for the installations are not yet set (see GSN, Feb. 4).

Under later phases of the Obama plan, increasingly sophisticated versions of the Standard Missile 3 interceptor would be deployed around Europe from 2015 to 2018. Anticipated host countries include Romania in 2015 and Poland in 2018, AP reported.

Defenses would focus in the early years on potential short- and medium-range missiles attacks from the Middle East, expanding later to address intermediate- and intercontinental-range threats (Lolita Baldor, Associated Press/Yahoo!News, March 1).

Plumb said the USS Monterey is to take part in maneuvers with other U.S. vessels deployed in the region, Agence France-Presse reported. The warship and other U.S. naval vessels with antimissile capabilities would provide a "routine presence" in the Mediterranean, he said (Antoine Lambroschini, Agence France-Presse/Google News, March 1).

March 2, 2011
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The United States is set next week to deploy to the Mediterranean Sea a warship outfitted with advanced ballistic missile tracking radar as part of initial steps in the establishment of a European missile shield, the Associated Press reported (see GSN, Nov. 12, 2010).