Missile system in Turkey on track: US
US Montenegro - The Associated Press
ieutenant General Mark Hertling, center, the top U.S. Army commander in Europe, talks to U.S. Army soldiers in Podgorica, Montenegro, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012. Hertling, the U.S. Army's commander in Europe says American forces are now manning a new radar defense site in Turkey that could help defend Europe from a potential Iranian ballistic missile attack. (AP Photo/ Dusan Stojanovic)American forces are now manning a new radar defense site in Turkey that could help defend Europe from a potential Iranian ballistic missile attack, the U.S. Army’s commander in Europe said Feb. 26.
“We have the forces in place ... at a radar site in southern Turkey,” Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling said in an interview at Montenegro’s main military airport in its capital.
It is the first time a senior U.S. commander has confirmed reports that the NATO defense shield radar has been operational in the past few weeks. The radar is a key element in a planned ballistic missile defense system that also would put other land- and sea-based radars and anti-missile interceptors in several European locations over the next decade.
“I can only speak for the ground base air defense units,” Hertling said. “Buy I will tell you that we make constant coordination (with the U.S. Navy and Air Force), and I think we are well on track to conduct missile defense.” “From an Army perspective, the missile defense plans are going as scheduled,” Hertling said.
The deal with Turkey last year to station the sophisticated radar on its territory was hailed by U.S. officials. The U.S. says the missile defense shield is designed to counter the Iranian missile threat. Besides the radar in Turkey, the defense shield also will contain interceptor missiles stationed in Romania and Poland, four ballistic missile defense-capable ships in Rota, Spain, and an operational headquarters in Germany.
The X-band radar in Turkey is part of a system designed to intercept short- and medium-range missiles at extremely high altitudes. It is located at a military base near Kürecik, a town about 700 kilometers west of the Iranian border.
NATO Secretary General Ander Fogh Rasmussen said recently Ankara offered to host an early warning radar system to be placed on its soil. Turkey had drawn Iran and Russia’s ire by agreeing to host a NATO radar system in the eastern province of Malatya.