A U.S. Navy Aegis radar-equipped ship is set to deploy to the Mediterranean in what a U.S. defense official called the first step in building a missile shield covering Europe, the Associated Press reports.

The USS Monterey would be the vanguard of the Pentagon’s so-called Phased Adaptive Approach, which would defend Europe initially with sea-based Standard Missile 3 interceptors guided by the Aegis system, to be followed by placement of radar on the ground in southern Europe and later deployment of more-capable variants of the Standard Missile 3 in Romania.

John F. Plumb, principal director for Pentagon nuclear and missile defense policy, said Tuesday that the USS Monterey will leave Norfolk, Va., next week, heading to a six-month deployment in the Mediterranean. The ship’s mission, he said, will lay the groundwork for the unfolding missile defense plan there.


READ IT AT: [Associated Press]