The U.S. Navy has selected the four Aegis-equipped missile defense warships that will be based in Spain in accordance with NATO efforts to establish a European missile shield, the Associated Press reported on Thursday (see GSN, Oct. 6, 2011).
Three of the guided-missile destroyers -- the USS Porter, the USS Ross, and the USS Donald Cook -- are presently based in Norfolk, Va. The fourth vessel, the USS Carney, is homeported in Mayport, Fla.
The Donald Cook and the Ross are due to dock in Rota, Spain sometime in fiscal 2014 and the other two ships would follow in fiscal 2015 (Associated Press/Miami Herald, Feb. 16).
"We welcome Spain's partnership in stationing four U.S. Navy Aegis ships at Naval Station Rota," U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in a press release. "We have a long history of cooperation between our two countries and we have developed significant interoperability between our naval forces."
In addition to helping to protect Europe from potential ballistic missile attacks, the U.S. destroyers would take part in marine security activities and joint maneuvers with allied countries (U.S. Defense Department release, Feb. 16).
The four destroyers' antimissile mission would be complemented by U.S. Standard Missile 3 interceptors due to be fielded in Romania and Poland between now and 2020. An X-band radar station already established in Turkey will also support the missile shield, which NATO says is intended as protection from a feared missile strike from the Middle East.
Russia has hotly opposed NATO and U.S. plans to locate antimissile infrastructure in Europe, seeing in the effort a scheme to undermine its strategic nuclear deterrent. Moscow has threatened to deploy air-defense units and short-range missiles to the Kaliningrad region if NATO proceeds with establishing its missile shield in absence of an accord with Russia on the matter.
Kaliningrad borders NATO states Poland and Lithuania. The two nations on Thursday agreed to align their positions on alliance missile defense plans, ITAR-Tass reported.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė and her Polish counterpart, Bronislaw Komorwski, agreed that their governments "will coordinate their positions on security policy and missile defense during their preparation for the NATO summit due in Chicago," a release from Grybauskaitė's office stated (ITAR-Tass, Feb. 16).
Meanwhile, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Friday said nonmember countries would not receive any information produced by the radar deployed in Turkey, Reuters reported.
Ankara has expressed concern that Israel might have access to radar data. The 2010 Israeli interception of a flotilla heading to Gaza, which led to the deaths of nine Turkish citizens, spiked tensions between the formerly friendly countries.
"It is a NATO system and the data within that system will not be shared with third countries. It is a NATO system and of course we will share data within the NATO framework," Rasmussen told reporters during a trip to the Turkish capital (Cameron-Moore/Karadeniz, Reuters, Feb. 17).
Separately, U.S. Defense Department sources are voicing skepticism that the Pentagon will be able to fulfill its contractual responsibilities to partly finance a multinational battlefield antimissile system, the Washington Business Journal reported on Thursday (see GSN, Nov. 8, 2011).
The Obama administration's fiscal 2013 budget proposal would allocate $400.9 million for continued work on the Medium Extended Air Defense System, which is also being financed by Italy and Germany.
Though complete U.S. funding levels have been budgeted for the MEADS effort in 2013, there is uncertainty on whether Washington will meet its financial obligations for 2012.
The Pentagon had requested $540 million for the MEADS program in fiscal 2012 but congressional appropriators ultimately allocated $390 million, according to previous reports (see GSN, Dec. 14, 2011).