Aegis Ships on Rota to Spain

Agreement calls for four U.S. Arleigh Burke destroyers to deploy to Spain to support missile defense in Europe

USS Donald Cook Four Aegis BMD-equipped ships – USS Donald Cook, shown above, USS Porter, USS Ross and USS Carney – will be deployed to Rota, Spain, as part of the U.S.’s Phased Adaptive Approach to European missile defense. Photo courtesy U.S. Navy.

NATO continues to make steady progress in establishing a defensive missile shield in Europe.

In May, NATO announced it had interim ballistic missile defense capability to protect the continent. Then, earlier this month Spain and the U.S. signed a formal agreement that will allow four Aegis-equipped Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to be deployed to the U.S. naval base in Rota.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Morenes signed the agreement at the close of NATO’s defense ministers meeting in Brussels on Oct. 10.

The four ships – USS Ross, USS Donald Cook, USS Porter and USS Carney – feature the Lockheed Martin-developed Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system, an integral part of the U.S.’s Phased Adaptive Approach to European missile defense and central to NATO’s plan.

According to a Spanish statement, the Aegis ships will "contribute directly to the effective protection of Spain's territory and population and the security of the rest of Europe…The four US ships that will be based in Rota will not carry out their missions from the base, rather this will serve as a logistics point for running bilateral and NATO missions in international waters."

Lockheed Martin recently featured the Aegis system, along with the Littoral Combat Ship and the MH-60R maritime helicopter, at the Euronaval show  Oct. 22 to 26 in Paris.

The Spanish cabinet authorized the agreement’s signing in early October, a year after the government said it would participate in the project. The first Aegis ships will arrive in Rota next year.

The four-part Phased Adaptive Approach initially calls for deploying Aegis-equipped ships in the Mediterranean Sea to address regional ballistic missile threats to Europe. Phase Two will use the same sea-based Aegis BMD capabilities in a ground-based Aegis Ashore configuration by 2015. Phases Three and Four will employ SM-3 missiles currently in development to counter future threats by the end of the decade.

Posted on November 1, 2012