Sunday, August 1, 2010

U.S. on Verge of Activating Missile Shield Over Southern Europe

By Craig Whitlock

The U.S. military is on the verge of activating a partial missile shield over southern Europe, part of an intensifying global effort to build defenses against Iranian missiles amid a deepening impasse over the country's nuclear ambitions.Pentagon officials said they are nearing a deal to establish a key radar ground station, probably in Turkey or Bulgaria. Installation of the high-powered X-band radar would enable the first phase of the shield to become operational next year.

At the same time, the U.S. military is working with Israel and allies in the Persian Gulf to build and upgrade their missile defense capabilities. The United States installed a radar ground station in Israel in 2008 and is looking to place another in an Arab country in the gulf region. The radars would provide a critical early warning of any launches from Iran, improving the odds of shooting down a missile.Obama administration has plans to nearly double its number of Aegis ships with ballistic missile defenses, to 38 by 2015.

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