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US missile defense system can hardly be described as "limited" — experts

May 20, 10:25 UTC+3 WASHINGTON
The Block IIA interceptor is not a threat to Russian missiles when it is based in or near Europe because the Russian missiles, will be too high for the Block IIA missiles reach
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US navy missile destroyer USS Ramage DDG-61 with Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system

US navy missile destroyer USS Ramage DDG-61 with Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system


WASHINGTON, May 20. /TASS/. US anti-ballistic missile system can hardly be described as "limited," Visiting Scholar at the Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Cornell University George Lewis told TASS on Friday.

From 33 ships to 80

"One other thing I should point out is that the Aegis SM-3 Block IIA missile will not just be deployed in Europe (in Romania and in the future in Poland), but on US Navy ships all over the world," Lewis said. "Under current plans, the number of US ships equipped for missile defense, now about 33, will reach close to 80 by the mid to late 2030s - and note that only four of these ships are assigned to EPAA (United States European Phased Adaptive Approach) in Europe," he added.

"The Block IIA interceptor is not a threat to Russian missiles when it is based in or near Europe because the Russian missiles, if flown on slightly lofted trajectories, will be too high for the Block IIA missiles reach. However, these Block IIA missiles are very capable of intercepting ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) on their descending trajectory if based near US territory, and the entire United States could be covered from only a few off-shore positions," he explained.

500-600 missile interceptors or more

"By the mid to late 2030s, it is reasonable to project that the US will have hundreds of these Block IIA interceptors (or more advanced versions), and quite possibly 500-600 or more, almost all of which could be relocated to defend US territory in a week or so," the expert continued. "And this does not count the ones built by Japan or sold to other countries," he noted adding that he does not see "how any further nuclear reductions would be possible given this development."

"The current GMD (Ground-Based Midcourse Defense) system is described by US officials as a ‘limited’ system," Lewis said. "What the deployment of the Aegis Block IIA interceptors will do is provide large numbers of highly mobile interceptors that could directly supplement the existing GMD system. Even if deployed overseas (and most US Aegis ships are near US territory at any given time), they could be rapidly (a week or two) redeployed. Thus the potential number of interceptors capable of covering the 50 states will jump from 44 to 400, 500, 600 or even more. It is hard to see how such a system could be described as limited," he said.

"Long history of lying"

Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Thoedore Postol told TASS that he agrees with Lewis’ comments. "The important point, as made by George (Lewis), is that these ships are becoming quite numerous and could readily be pulled back to locations for defending the continental United States," he said.

"This was another matter that the US Missile Defense Agency initially denied was a possibility - adding to the long history of US lying about theoretical capabilities of these missile defenses. I would not understate the importance of this systemic lying. There is no doubt that it has substantially added to the distrust Russia has for the United States," the expert concluded.

US missile defense system in Europe

A ground-based Aegis system was commissioned in a ceremony in the Romanian town of Deveselu earlier in May. A total of 175 hectares was allocated here to accommodate the ballistic missile defense base comprising a radar, an operations center for antimissile batteries and Mk-1 vertical launch systems (VLS) with SM-3 Standard-3 antimissiles. It is also expected that the similar system will be deployed in Poland in 2018.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on May 13 at the session on developing military-industrial complex that deployment of US missile defense system in Europe is not protection but nuclear potential buildup. "If by using their capabilities in world media they are still able to mislead someone into believing that it does not threaten Russia or that it is only a system of defense, no one present at this table, at this session will be misled by them. Nothing like this, this is not a defensive system, this is a part of US strategic nuclear potential taken to the periphery," Putin said adding that by periphery he means Eastern Europe.

Putin also expressed concern with United States creating conditions for breaching the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). "This (the deployment of the missile shield system in Europe) is an additional threat for us," the Russian president said. "After the US unilateral withdrawal from the anti-ballistic missile treaty, which was clearly the first step towards the attempts to disrupt the strategic balance of forces in the world, this will be the second blow against the system of international security, i.e. the creation of conditions for breaching the INF Treaty," the Russian president said. "This causes our additional concerns," he concluded.

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