Archive for the ‘interceptors’ Category

Czech Senate Approves U.S. Missile Defense Shield

November 27, 2008

The upper chamber of the Czech parliament on Thursday approved a deal with Washington to accept a U.S. missile defense installation.

The Associated Press

The deal still needs approval by the lower chamber, where the vote is expected to be close because the governing coalition has too few seats to guarantee passage. That vote is not expected before the end of the year.

The proposed U.S. missile defense system calls for a tracking radar in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland as part of a shield designed to protect the region from possible attacks from Iran.

The Senate approved both treaties involved in the deal — the main bilateral treaty allowing the United States to build a radar base near Prague and the second, “complementary,” treaty that deals with the legal status of U.S. soldiers to be deployed at the base.

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US interested in Czech missile defense radar even without interceptors in Poland

April 2, 2008

WASHINGTON – The United States would still be interested in installing a radar in the Czech Republic even if it should fail to reach a deal with Poland on the other main part of its planned European missile defense system.

The director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, Lt. Gen. Henry A. “Trey” Obering, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday that the radar could serve multiple functions within the global U.S. missile defense system.

The United States and the Czech Republic have said they are nearing a deal on the radar, but talks with Poland about building a site for 10 interceptors have lagged. Poland has been demanding that the United States include military aid as part of any agreement.

Obering said that while the United States still expects to complete the deal with Poland, the radar would be useful even without the interceptors.

“The radar itself is a tremendous capability,” he said, and information gathered from the radar could be used for U.S. and NATO missile defense assets other than the planned European system.

The U.S. plans in the two Eastern European countries have been a source of tension with Russia and are expected to be a major topic in talks between President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin when they meet on Sunday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Bush Cautiously Optimistic On Missile Defense-Radio Interview

March 20, 2008

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- U.S. President George W. Bush is “cautiously optimistic,” but unsure if the U.S. and Russia can overcome differences over a planned missile-defense system in Eastern Europe.

President Bush waves onstage at the Pentagon, March 19, 2008. ...
President Bush waves onstage at the Pentagon, March 19, 2008.(Jason Reed/Reuters)

Designed to offset the potential threat of attack by Iran or another rogue nation, the proposed ballistic missile defense system includes the installation of 10 interceptors in silos in Poland and early warning radar in the Czech Republic. But the plan has drawn stiff opposition from the Kremlin, which worries the system could be a threat to Russia’s national security.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were in Moscow this week, but their meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President-elect Dmitry Medvedev, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov ended without a resolution on missile defense.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Bush said in an interview Wednesday with Radio Farda, a U.S.-funded Farsi-language broadcaster. “I don’t know whether we can find common ground. But we are trying to find common ground, and that’s what’s – that’s the first step, is to make the attempt.”

Bush said it would “make life easier” if the U.S. and Russia could iron our their differences. He repeated that the system, which still needs to be approved by Poland and the Czech Republic, would not be aimed at Russia.

Satellite Shot Down: Lucky or Excellence?

March 16, 2008

16 March 2008

(CBS) Last month, we were treated to a space spectacular – not a shuttle launch or moon landing, but the shoot down of a crippled intelligence satellite by a missile launched from a U.S. Navy ship. It was a test of the country’s missile defense system, a system that was conceived over 20 years ago by President Reagan. And it worked. Was it a lucky shot, or is the nation’s missile defense a reason for Americans to feel secure? National Security correspondent David Martin has some answers.

single modified tactical Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) launches from the U.S. Navy AEGIS cruiser USS Lake Erie
This photo provided by the U.S. Navy shows an SM-3 missile being launched from the USS Lake Erie warship on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2008. The Pentagon says the missile successfully intercepted a wayward U.S. spy satellite orbiting the earth at 17,000 miles per hour, about 133 nautical miles over the Pacific ocean. (AP Photo/US Navy)

It was 25 years ago this month, in a presidential address from the Oval Office, when Ronald Reagan asked this question:

“What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reach our own soil or that of our allies?”

President Reagan never used the words, but this will forever be known as the “Star Wars” speech, a term of gentle derision for his vision of battle stations in space destroying Soviet missiles with lasers.

It never happened, but today there is a scaled-down version of Star Wars, not in space but on Earth – interceptors to defend not against an all-out Soviet attack, but against a handful of missiles launched by North Korea or Iran.

“If you want to call it Star Wars lite,” Lt. Gen. Trey Obering told CBS News correspondent David Martin, “I have no problem with that term.”

Obering is the man in charge of building a system that can shoot down incoming ballistic missiles – the proverbial “hitting a bullet with a bullet.”

“I was a big fan of the ‘Star Wars’ movies,” Obering told Martin, “and when you think about what that was involving, it was, I think, the force of good versus the forces of evil in the universe.”
A ballistic missile streaks across the sky during a test for ... 
A ballistic missile streaks across the sky during a test for the US missile defense program in 2001.(AFP/File/Mike Nelson)

Obering’s forces of good include a giant radar floating on an oil platform in the Pacific Ocean; nearly two dozen interceptor missiles in underground silos in Alaska and California; and still more interceptors on Navy cruisers. One of those blew up that out-of-control satellite a few weeks ago – the first real shootdown by a system that to date has cost $115 billion, but which most Americans don’t even know exists.

Martin asked Obering straight out if the U.S. currently has a missile defense system.

“Yes sir,” he answered. “We have a missile defense system today.”

“As we’re speaking,” Martin pressed him, “someone is sitting at a screen watching for that North Korean missile?”

“Yes sir, that’s a fact. We have crews on alert.”

“This may be one of the best kept secrets in Washington,” Martin told him.

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Rice says Russia suggests greater openness on missile defense

March 15, 2008
By ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writer

SANTIAGO, Chile – Russia has signaled a new openness toward a U.S. missile defense program for Eastern Europe, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, seen here, left Santiago ... 
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, seen here, left Santiago late Friday for Washington after wrapping up her short visits to Brazil and Chile(AFP/raul bravo)

The missile defense plan angered Russia, which has seen it as a Western provocation at its doorstep. Moscow‘s interest prompted Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to make last-minute plans to visit Russia next week.

Rice said she would not go so far as to say that Russia’s opposition to the plan had diminished, but she said the Russians have recently expressed enough interest in certain aspects of the latest U.S. proposal that it was worth setting up a face-to-face meeting.

“In private we’ve had good discussions with the Russians,” Rice said.

Speaking to reporters during a Latin American trip, the top U.S. diplomat declined to say which aspects of the program would be the focus of the Russia talks. Gates and Rice went to Moscow last fall to present several ideas intended to encourage Russian cooperation and make the program easier for the Kremlin to accept.

They got a chilly reception from President Vladimir Putin and senior Russian officials at the time, but lower-level officials have been meeting since then and have apparently made some progress.

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Moscow’s Missile Gambit

March 13, 2008

 By Robert Joseph and J.D. Crouch II
The Washington Post
Thursday, March 13, 2008; Page A17

Six years ago, President Bush announced the U.S. withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and our intention to deploy defenses against emerging threats from countries such as North Korea and Iran. Contrary to prevailing expectations, the sky did not fall. Moscow’s response, delivered in a statement by President Vladimir Putin, expressed disagreement with the U.S. decision but emphasized that U.S. defenses were not a threat to Russia and that Russia would make major reductions in its strategic offensive forces — a striking rebuke to the myth that ending the ABM Treaty would lead to an arms race.
Today, the United States and Russia find themselves in opposition on the issue of deploying 10 missile interceptors and supporting radar to Europe — an act of much less strategic consequence than abandonment of the ABM Treaty. Bush and his national security team have explained the concept, in considerable detail, to Russia’s national security elite. Moscow objects by citing a threat to its own deterrent (an argument it knows has no merit) and the stationing of American forces near its borders (which reminds it of the painful loss of empire) and denies the existence of an Iranian missile threat.
Russia’s stance reflects its increasing assertiveness as a major player on the international scene, helped by the price of its energy exports. Moscow is eager to regain its great-power status and thinks the path to success requires painting the United States as the threat. The United States, as a prominent former Russian official once told us, is the threat Russians love to hate.
With equal determination, the Bush administration has sought to change Russian perspectives. Over five years, the United States has made proposal after proposal to work with Russia’s military and industry on missile defense. We have both been involved in these initiatives, offering modest cooperative activities, such as activation of a joint early-warning center, and projects that would be more technically, and politically, challenging. Each time cooperation has been deflected or rejected. Russia’s offer of the use of its radar in Azerbaijan, for example, came with a string attached — that the United States forgo building an interceptor site in Europe.

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Bush, Polish PM agree on missile defense

March 11, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) — Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said President Bush has removed key stumbling blocks in negotiations to allow U.S. missile defense interceptors on Polish soil.

Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk answers questions about ...
Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk answers questions about allowing U.S. missile defense interceptors to be based on Polish soil, Monday, March 10, 2008, during and interview with The Associated Press in Washington, following his meeting with President Bush. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Negotiations had been stalled because of Poland’s demand for help in upgrading its military in exchange for allowing the interceptors. U.S. negotiators wanted to deal with the Polish demands separately and leave promises vague.

But Tusk said that Bush agreed during their meeting Monday that the missile defense program and the U.S.-aided modernization of the Polish military would be considered all in “one package.”

“The words of President Bush were very convincing,” he told The Associated Press through an interpreter after leaving the White House. “This is a politician, who is controversial for some but in my opinion is very trustworthy. I believe that is extremely important in the world of politics.”
A ballistic missile streaks across the sky during a test for ... 
A ballistic missile streaks across the sky during a test for the US missile defense program in 2001.(AFP/File/Mike Nelson)

Bush, in a joint appearance with Tusk at the White House, said he had assured the prime minister that the United States would develop a concrete plan for helping Poland modernize its military “before my watch is over.”

The U.S. missile defense plans have become one of the thorniest issues in U.S.-Russian relations. Russia opposes the U.S. plan to build part of its global missile defense system so close to Russian borders, arguing that it would undermine the Russian deterrent. The United States says the system is aimed at countering a threat from Iran or North Korea and would be impotent against Russia’s massive arsenal.

The Polish government argues that the military upgrade is necessary because Russia has threatened to target Poland with nuclear missiles if it should allow the interceptors.

The White House denied the suggestion that the military help is a reward for Polish agreement on the interceptors or that it is needed because of a Russian threat to Poland.

“It is certainly not a quid pro quo,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said. “Who is suggesting that Russia is going to attack anybody?”

When told that it is Polish officials who have said this, Perino said that it wasn’t part of the discussions Monday between Tusk and Bush.

Tusk said that the United States had backed down from an insistence that it would need six months to consider how it could help Poland upgrade its military. Tusk said that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told him Monday that the period could be reduced to three months.

Following the meeting between the two leaders at the White House, Bush said the United States recognizes the need for Polish forces to be modernized, and “we’re responding.”

“There is a commitment to a system that respects Poland’s sovereignty and that will ensure that the people of Poland will not be subjected to any undue security risks,” Bush said. “This is the kind of issue that all kinds of rumors and worries can grow out of and we just want to assure people that it’s necessary and at the same time there will be this modernization effort that will take place.”

Neither leader talked specifics. Bush said “obviously there’s a lot of work to do” and that experts are working through the details to make sure that “the people of Poland are comfortable with the idea.”

The United States opened the negotiations last year with the government of previous Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who strongly supported the U.S. proposal. Tusk’s government has sought more in return.

Polish officials have said they are looking for help to acquire air defenses against short- to medium-range missiles. Negotiators have asked for Patriot 3 or THAAD missiles and have identified 17 areas of the Polish military that the United States could help modernize. Interceptors for the planned U.S. shield are for protection against long-range missiles.

Missile Defense Obstacles In Poland, Czech Republic

October 23, 2007

By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer 

PRAGUE, Czech Republic – The Bush administration wants deals by the end of the year for missile defense bases in Eastern Europe, but getting the Czech Republic and Poland to go along with that timetable could be difficult.

Poland’s opposition party ousted ruling conservatives in parliamentary elections on Sunday, though Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested Monday he still believes Warsaw will cooperate.

The Pentagon wants to install 10 interceptor rockets in Poland which, when linked to a proposed tracking radar in the Czech Republic and to other elements of the existing U.S. missile defense system based in the United States, could defend all of Europe against a long-range missile fired from the Middle East.

Gates planned to hold talks Tuesday ….

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