Amidst his bluster about challenges from Russia and China, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced at the Munich Security Conference that the U.S. has deployed ballistic missile defense destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) to Spain, to increase NATO’s anti-missile shield in Europe, Russia Today reported. USS Donald Cook is equipped with the Aegis shipboard integrated combat weapons system. While claiming that Iran was the target, Hagel went on to stress “challenges” from China and Russia.
Hagel said: “An important posture enhancement is European missile defense in response to ballistic missile threats from Iran,” adding that the U.S. is committed “to deploying missile defense architecture there” as a part of Phase 3 of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA). He said that over the next two years, three additional Aegis-enabled missile defense-capable destroyers will be added to the effort to protect NATO countries on the European continent.
“Despite fiscal constraints, the budget that we will release next month fully protects our investment in European missile defense…. There are some capabilities that the United States military will continue to invest heavily in. We will continue to be the world leader in those kinds of capabilities,” Hagel bloviated. Later in his statement, he noted that China and Russia “are rapidly modernizing their militaries and global defense industries, challenging our technological edge and defense partnerships around the world,” he claimed. Hagel had made similar statements in Poland a few days earlier.
The USS Donald Cook will become the first of four ballistic missile defense (BMD)-capable ships based in Europe. It will be joined by the destroyer Ross in a few months, while Carney and Porter will reach European waters in 2015, Russia Today reported.