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. US Navy To Double Aegis Missile Defenese Fleet

File photo: An SM-3 missile is launched from the USS Shiloh.
by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) Aug 22, 2006
by the end of 2006, the U.S. Navy will have a total of six warships capable of tracking and shooting down ballistic missiles, the Navy Times reported Friday. Three cruisers -- the USS Shiloh, USS Lake Erie and USS Port Royal -- already have the capability to track ballistic missiles with upgraded Aegis radar.

They also have the ability to hit a ballistic missile with an SM-3 missile, shot out of standard Navy vertical launch system tubes, the report said.

By the end of December, the destroyers USS Stethem, USS Decatur and USS Curtis Wilbur will also have ballistic-missile defense capability, Lt. Tommy Crosby, a Navy spokesman at the Pentagon, told the Navy Times.

Crosby told the newspaper that all three destroyers are getting the upgrade to shoot SM-3 missiles from their VLS tubes, which requires a brief yard period. The USS Decatur also needs the long-range surveillance and tracking software update.

Crosby said the upgrades did not affect maintenance schedules and that the new capabilities should not adjust deployment schedules, either. "We're not taking these ships out of rotation to do this," he said. Asked if the ships will take turns patroling off the coast of North Korea, he told the Navy Times, "They patrol the Pacific."

The USS Lake Erie has been used in agreement with the Missile Defense Agency to test seaborne anti-ballistic missile systems.

Eventually, the U.S. Department of Defense wants 18 cruisers and destroyers with the missile-defense capability.

During a test June 22 off Hawaii, an SM-3 launched from the cruiser Shiloh hit a target warhead 100 miles above Earth. That intercept was the seventh successful hit out of eight tries in ship-borne tests, the Navy Times said.

Pentagon admits "gaps" in cruise missile defenses

A Pentagon assessment of the U.S. capability to defend the homeland against incoming enemy cruise missiles has found what it calls "capability gaps" that may not be solved until 2015, InsideDefense.com reported Aug 17.

As a result, the U.S. Air Force's directorate of operational capability requirements is leading a Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System study "to determine the best approaches for mitigating high-risk joint gaps in the (Homeland Air and Cruise Missile Defense of North America) mission area," according to an Aug 9 request for information posted on Federal Business Opportunities, the report said.

Officials from the U.S. Army and Navy, the U.S. Air Force's Air Combat Command, the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command are also taking part, an Air Force official said according to the report.

In May, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council directed the Air Force to lead a so-called "Functional Solutions Analysis (FSA) for Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD)," to include the Homeland Air and Cruise Missile Defense of North America. The following month, the Air Force Requirements for Operational Capability Council approved the "FSA Study Plan," which included a "call for concepts" via an RFI, the Air Force official told Inside Missile Defense, InsideDefense.com said.

Pentagon and Missile Defense Agency officials increasingly are concerned by the threat of terrorists using a cargo ship to fire cruise and ballistic missiles just off U.S. shores but outside its territorial waters.

According to the RFI released earlier this month, the "Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) FNA identified capability gaps in both proficiency and sufficiency out to the year 2015." The proposed Air Force JCIDS study will address nine of those gaps, InsideDefense.com said.

U.S. may send second X-band radar to guard Japan

The United States is considering deploying another radar system in the western Pacific region in response to North Korea's firing ballistic missiles last month, a U.S. Defense Department official was quoted as saying by Kyodo News Aug 21, 2006.

It would be the second mobile X-band radar for an advanced early warning system over ballistic missiles to be deployed around Japan after one installed at the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force's Shariki base in Tsugaru, Aomori Prefecture, Kyodo said according to a report carried by the Seoul Times Aug 22.

The four candidate sites for the second radar are in the Kyushu region and Okinawa Prefecture in Japan as well as South Korea and Guam, the U.S. official told Kyodo.

The U.S. government plans to talk to Japan with a view to accelerating the joint buildup of a ballistic missile defense shield to counter Pyongyang's nuclear and missile development, the official said according to the report.

Using a radio frequency of X-band range, the radar system is capable of identifying and tracking ballistic missiles. The Department of Defense announced its completion in April last year.

According to the official, the second radar will be located in the southern part of the region in a bid to expand the scope of tracking North Korean missiles in combination with the one in the northern part of Japan.

Of the four candidate sites, the chances are higher for Kyushu and South Korea because they are closer to North Korea than Okinawa and Guam, the official said.

The radar system at Shariki base was deployed as part of a U.S.-Japan agreement in May on realigning U.S. forces in Japan. Test runs on it began in late June, the Kyodo report said.

Also to help reinforce the joint missile defense project, which began after North Korea fired a ballistic missile in August 1998, the U.S. Navy is scheduled to deploy the Aegis-equipped cruiser Shiloh this month at Yokosuka base in Kanagawa Prefecture, the Seoul Times said.

The U.S. Navy has eight destroyers equipped with the most advanced Aegis missile guidance system at Yokosuka, with most of them upgraded to serve missile defense missions, the report said.

Source: United Press International

Related Links
Learn about missile defense at SpaceWar.com

BMD Focus: Japan's long road on BMD
Washington (UPI) Aug 17, 2006
The July missile crisis with North Korea revealed that Japan and the United States have surprisingly little coordination in their current ballistic missile defense deployments.

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