The so-called Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense that the United States is pursuing to protect Europe could be the model for additional regional missile defense systems in places like Asia and the Middle East, two U.S. officials said March 21.

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama in September 2009 unveiled a new concept for defending European allies and deployed forces from ballistic missile attacks. The Pentagon this year began fielding the first elements of the Phased Adaptive Approach, which is centered around the Lockheed Martin-developed Aegis Weapon System, Raytheon-built Standard Missile-3 interceptors and a network of ground-, air- and space-based sensors.

Europe is not the only area that needs protection from ballistic missile attacks, said Ellen Tauscher, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.

“There is much more work to be done to implement new regional approaches outside of Europe,” Tauscher said at the annual U.S. Missile Defense Conference in Washington. “We need to think through what the Phased Adaptive Approach would look like, for example, in the Middle East and Asia. When the various political and military dynamics are factored in, it might look different than our approach to Europe.

“We also have a chance to develop closer relationships and develop more capable systems with countries like Japan, France, Israel, South Korea and Australia. We can work with our allies and partners to upgrade their warships, enabling them to conduct missile defense operations.”

There is nothing inherently European about systems the Missile Defense Agency is developing for the Phased Adaptive Approach, said Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, the agency’s director. They could easily be adapted to protect other parts of the world, he said at the conference.

“You notice that it’s not the European Phased Adaptive Approach, it’s the Phased Adaptive Approach,” O’Reilly said.



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