U.S. puts phase IV of NATO missile defense system on hold

"We are restructuring the SM-3 IIB program"

From Chuck Hagel, Department of Defense:  [W]e are restructuring the SM-3 IIB program.  As many of you know, we had planned to deploy the SM-3 IIB as part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach.   The purpose was to add to the protection of the U.S. homeland already provided by our current GBIs against missile threats from the Middle East.  The timeline for deploying this program had been delayed to at least 2022 due to cuts in congressional funding.  Meanwhile, the threat matures.  By shifting resources from this lagging program to fund the additional GBIs as well as advanced kill vehicle technology that will improve the performance of the GBI and other versions of the SM-3 interceptor, we will be able to add protection against missiles from Iran sooner while also providing additional protection against the North Korean threat.

Let me emphasize the strong and continued commitment of the United States to NATO missile defense.  That commitment remains ironclad.  The missile deployments the United States is making in phases one through three of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, including sites in Poland and Romania, will still be able to provide coverage of all European NATO territory as planned by 2018.

The collective result of these four decisions will be to further improve our ability to counter future missile threats from Iran and North Korea, while maximizing increasingly scarce taxpayer resources.  The American people expect us to take every necessary step to protect their security at home and U.S. strategic interests abroad, but they expect us to do so in the most efficient and effective manner possible.  By taking the steps I’ve outlined today, we will strengthen our homeland defense, maintain our commitments to our allies and partners, and make clear to the world that the United States stands firm against aggression.

Excerpt from Missile Defense Announcement by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.  (photo: Getty)

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