Obama's New Missile Plan Offers Better Defense: Gates

Strategy deploys more missiles 6 years earlier than under Bush plan
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2009 11:41 AM CDT
A C300 anti-aircraft missile flies over head during an air defense exercise near the Black sea town of Shabla east of the Bulgarian capital Sofia, Friday, Sept. 4, 2009.   (AP Photo/Petar Petrov)
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(Newser) – The Obama administration is upgrading missile defense plans in Europe, not abandoning them, writes Robert Gates, the author of the Bush-era plans recently scrapped, in a New York Times op-ed. The previous plan would not have installed the proposed 10 long-range interceptors in Central Europe until at least 2017, while the first phase of the new plan will deploy scores of sea-based short- and mid-range SM-3 missiles as early as 2011—sensible, considering short- and mid-range missiles are what Iran has now.

The second phase, due in 2015, will put long-range defense capabilities in Central Europe, just like the old plan. The new plan implements a proven technology—the SM-3s—instead of one that still needs development. It deploys scores of them, as opposed to just 10, which is suited to Iran’s likely strategy of launching multiple mid-range attacks on NATO allies, at a much earlier date. The bottom line: “We are strengthening—not scrapping—missile defense in Europe,” the defense secretary writes.