Coalition/Allies, Defense Department, Policy, weapons systems

U.S. to shift ABM base focus from E. Europe to Turkey, Israel

A Polish newpaper has reported that the Obama administration will scrap plans for “missile shield” bases in Poland and the Czech Republic in favor of a sea-based approach and potential bases in Turkey and Israel.

The move comes on the heels of Obama’s recent meeting with Russian leaders, and recent revelations that Iran’s latest ballistic missile could strike targets in Europe.  It may also have been bolstered by the progress of the Aegis ABM program, which has a much better track record thus far than the land-based ABM program.

Today, Army Lt. Gen. Patrick J. O’Reilly, the director for the Missile Defense Agency, pointed to the successes of the program as a whole, in an interview at the Pentagon. “A few years ago the question was, ‘Could you even hit a missile with a missile?’ We have proven we could do that well over 35 times.”

O’Reilly said that 39 of the last 45 tries at stopping a test missile were successful. All but one miss were early in the program, and he said that one was because of a manufacturing problem, which was fixed as demonstrated by a successful test three weeks ago.

The Defense Department recently committed an additional $900 million toward fielding the Army’s Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) mobile missile defense system.

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