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By the end of 2006, the U.S. Navy will have a total of six warships capable of tracking and shooting down ballistic missiles, the Navy Times reported Friday. Three cruisers -- the USS Shiloh, USS Lake Erie and USS Port Royal -- already have the capability to track ballistic missiles with upgraded Aegis radar.
They also have the ability to hit a ballistic missile with an SM-3 missile, shot out of standard Navy vertical launch system tubes, the report said.
Eventually, the U.S. Department of Defense wants 18 cruisers and destroyers with the missile-defense capability.
During a test June 22 off Hawaii, an SM-3 launched from the cruiser Shiloh hit a target warhead 100 miles above Earth. That intercept was the seventh successful hit out of eight tries in ship-borne tests, the Navy Times said.
The United States is considering deploying another radar system in the western Pacific region in response to North Korea's firing ballistic missiles last month, a U.S. Defense Department official was quoted as saying by Kyodo News Aug 21, 2006.
The four candidate sites for the second radar are in the Kyushu region and Okinawa Prefecture in Japan as well as South Korea and Guam, the U.S. official told Kyodo.
The U.S. government plans to talk to Japan with a view to accelerating the joint buildup of a ballistic missile defense shield to counter Pyongyang's nuclear and missile development, the official said according to the report.
A Pentagon assessment of the U.S. capability to defend the homeland against incoming enemy cruise missiles has found what it calls "capability gaps" that may not be solved until 2015, InsideDefense.com reported Aug 17.
Officials from the U.S. Army and Navy, the U.S. Air Force's Air Combat Command, the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command are also taking part, an Air Force official said according to the report.
In May, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council directed the Air Force to lead a so-called "Functional Solutions Analysis (FSA) for Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD)," to include the Homeland Air and Cruise Missile Defense of North America. The following month, the Air Force Requirements for Operational Capability Council approved the "FSA Study Plan," which included a "call for concepts" via an RFI, the Air Force official told Inside Missile Defense, InsideDefense.com said.