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Obama sharply alters missile defense plans By William H. McMichael - Staff writer Posted : Thursday Sep 17, 2009 20:26:32 EDT
In a major policy reversal, President Barack Obama has scuttled plans to build a massive ground-based missile defense system based in the Czech Republic and Poland that the Bush administration intended to counter the threat posed by Iranian ballistic missiles.
Instead, Obama favors shorter-range ground- and sea-based missiles positioned closer to Iran.
The new system, which Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said will be “globally deployable, ... globally exportable,” initially will center around ground-based Patriot and Aegis-ship-based SM-3 missiles, networked command-and-control systems and improved sensors. It will mimic the ship-based defense system now used in the joint defense of South Korea and Japan, he said.
Worldwide, the system eventually will integrate the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense missile, or THAAD, slated this year for operational deployment to Europe, and the Ground-Based Interceptor missile based at Fort Greely, Alaska, and at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Cartwright said.
It also would include construction of a directional X-band radar somewhere in Europe, most likely in the Caucasus region, Cartwright said.
Now off the table are plans to build the politically sensitive system that Defense Secretary Robert Gates proposed to President George W. Bush in 2006 that called for construction of a complex radar station in the Czech Republic and the installation of 10 silo-based Ground-Based Interceptor missiles in Poland.
But two elements of the new plan should allay those fears, Gates said. The new sensor plan will not have the capability to look deep into Russia, as the previous omni-directional system could have.
The X-band radar is directional and, Cartwright said, “it’ll be very clear that it is pointing south towards Iran.”
And the SM-3, with its kinetic warhead, is a weapon that Gates said the Russians “simply cannot, at least rationally, argue bears any kind of a threat to Russia.”