Tag: Patriot

Guam, Japan prepare for possible North Korea missile launch

SANTA RITA, Guam. An aerial view of U.S. Naval Base Guam. Naval Base Guam supports the U.S. Pacific Fleet. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Hagatña, Guam (CNN) North Korean military figures are putting the final touches on a plan to fire four missiles into the waters around the US-territory of Guam, to be presented to leader Kim Jong Un within days.

In a statement last week, Gen. Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army, said the plan to fire “four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets … to signal a crucial warning to the US” would be ready by “mid-August.”

Recent days have seen a significant escalation of tensions in the region as preparations are put in place for a possible launch in Guam, Japan and South Korea.

A notice put out by Guam’s Joint Information Center Saturday warned residents how to prepare “for an imminent missile threat.”

“Do not look at the flash or fireball — it can blind you,” the note said. “Lie flat on the ground and cover your head. If the explosion is some distance away, it could take 30 seconds or more for the blast wave to hit.”

Guam’s Homeland Security Adviser George Charfauros said Friday it would take 14 minutes for a missile fired from North Korea to reach Guam.

Japan missile defense deployed

On Saturday, some of Japan’s land-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile interceptors began arriving at Japanese Self Defense Forces (SDF) bases in three of the four prefectures any North Korean missiles would likely fly over en route to Guam.

Pyongyang identified three of those areas — Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi prefectures — in its statement last week.

A spokesman for SDF said the missiles were being deployed not to intercept missiles, but rather “just in case.” He did not elaborate.

Sim Tack, a senior analyst for private intelligence firm Stratfor, said the Japanese batteries are designed for protecting the area where they are deployed, “(they are) not meant to shoot missiles out of the sky as they pass over Japan at high altitude.”

“So unless those North Korean missiles were to fall short, the Patriots shouldn’t have a function to serve in this particular case,” he said.
Japanese Ballistic Missile Defense Scenario

The SDF spokesman said the country’s Aegis ballistic missile defense system was deployed in the waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, but would not give a specific location.

Aegis is able to track 100 missiles simultaneously and fire interceptors to take out an enemy’s ballistic projectiles.

In South Korea, where both the military and civilians are used to facing threats from North Korea, Defense Minister Song Young-moo warned the country’s armed forces “to maintain full readiness” to “immediately punish with powerful force” any action against the South.

“Recently, North Korea made its habitual absurd remarks that it will turn Seoul into a sea of fire and that it will strike near Guam,” Song said according to ministry official. “North Korea raising tension (on the Peninsula) is a serious challenge against the South Korean-US alliance and the international community.”

Meanwhile, US-South Korean joint military exercises are due to begin later this month. The annual exercises, called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, are expected to run from August 21 to 31.

Calls for calm

Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders have called for calm as both Pyongyang and Washington upped their saber-rattling rhetoric.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump doubled down on his statement that he would unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if Pyongyang continued its threats, saying in a tweet that “military solutions” were “locked and loaded” for use against North Korea.

According to a statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Xi told Trump in a call between the two leaders Saturday all “relevant parties parties should exercise restraint and avoid words and actions that would escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described escalation as “the wrong answer,” while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Trump’s statements were “very worrying.”

Last week, New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English criticized Trump’s “fire and fury” comments as “not helpful in an environment that’s very tense.”

French President Emmanuel Macron called for the international community to work with North Korea to “resume the path of dialogue without conditions,” following a call with Trump Saturday.

Washington has previously said it will consider talks with Pyongyang if it agrees to give up its nuclear weapons program, a pre-condition North Korean officials have described as a non-starter.

Guam waits for news

At a church in central Guam Sunday, parishioners sang “Lord, we pray for world peace” after discussing the potential North Korean threat.

“There’s a lot of disbelief going on, there’s a lot of anxiety,” Father Paul Gofigan told CNN after the mass.

Gofigan said there is not a lot of panic in Guam, and that people’s faith — the island has been overwhelmingly Catholic since the arrival of Spanish missionaries in the 17th century– has been on display in recent days.

“Faith is so deeply rooted into our culture,” he said.

The territory’s governor, Eddie Baza Calvo, said he spoke with Trump and the President’s chief of staff, John Kelly, on Saturday.

“Both assured me that the people of Guam are safe,” Calvo wrote on Facebook. “In the President’s words they are behind us ‘1,000 percent.’ As the head of the Government of Guam, I appreciate their reassurances that my family, my friends, everyone on this island, are all safe.”

As an unincorporated US territory, citizens of Guam cannot vote in general elections. The island is also home to a large US military presence, a fact that has led to tension with some local residents, particularly those of the indigenous Chamorro community.

“Nobody really deserves to be caught in the middle of these games,” said Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, an activist who campaigns for a lowered military presence.

“You’re playing with people’s lives. We just want peace, we just want to continue to enjoy our lives here.”

 

Pence and Estonian PM discuss deploying the Patriot anti-missile defence system

The vice president of the United States, Mike Pence, and the Estonian prime minister, Jüri Ratas, discussed the possibility of deploying the Patriot anti-missile defence system in Estonia.

Ratas, having met Pence, who was visiting the tiny Nordic NATO member from 30-31 July, told the main news programme of the Estonian public broadcasting that he discussed the deployment of the Patriot anti-missile system, but there were no talks about a potential date when the system would be deployed.

“We discussed it today,” Ratas said, replying to a reporter’s question about the defence system. “We didn’t discuss specifically when it would happen,” he added.

“The main messages from both sides were that both Estonia and the United States are active allies in NATO,” Ratas told the public broadcasting.

“We also discussed the [Russian] military exercise to take place at the Estonian border – Zapad – and how Estonia, the United States and NATO monitor it and exchange information,” Ratas added.

Increased cooperation in cyber security

The two leaders also discussed opportunities for increased cooperation in the digital field and cyber security. Pence praised Estonia as a model for innovation and the use of technology to develop solutions for global economic, security and social challenges, and he thanked the country for hosting the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn.

After meeting with the presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in Tallinn on 31 July, the US vice president again offered reassurances.

“Under President Donald Trump, the United States stands firmly behind our Article 5 pledge of mutual defence – an attack on one of us is an attack on us all,” Pence told reporters.

In Tallinn, he also met allied troops from France, the UK and the US that are stationed in Estonia.

 

US vice president Pence wants Patriot missiles in Estonia to deter Russia

The Patriot Missile and Air Defense System

The US is considering deploying Patriot surface-to-air missiles in Estonia, US Vice President Mike Pence told Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas on Sunday.

The U.S. Patriot defense system is a mobile, ground-based system designed to intercept missiles and warplanes.
Estonian Prime Minister Ratas said the two leaders talked about the upcoming Russian military manoeuvres planned for near the Estonian border, “and how Estonia, the United States, and NATO should monitor them and exchange information.”

Pence, on the first stop of a trip that will also take him to Georgia and Montenegro, said in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, that Washington stands with the Baltic nations and other allies in Eastern Europe that have expressed concerns about Russia’s intentions in their respective regions.

“Our message to the Baltic states — my message when we visit Georgia and Montenegro — will be the same: To our allies here in Eastern Europe, we are with you, we stand with you on behalf of freedoms,” Pence said in an interview with Fox News.

Ratas said in a statement that the US was vital to the security of the region.

“NATO’s collective position of deterrence and defense has strengthened in the Baltic region and the USA is indispensable to ensuring the security of our immediate neighborhood, as well as all of Europe,” Ratas said.

Estonian troops conducting an exercise on NATOs Eastern Flank.

Lithuania said it was eager to have Patriot missiles when the US military displayed the system in the country earlier this month after using them in an exercise there. Anti-aircraft defense is seen as one of NATO’s weaknesses in the Baltic states.

From Estonia, Pence is scheduled to make stops in Georgia and the newest NATO member, Montenegro.
Estonia and Montenegro are members of NATO, while Georgia has expressed hopes of joining the Western alliance.

Asked about Trump’s commitment to NATO’s mutual-defense provision, Pence told reporters in Tallinn that the U.S. administration has “made it clear that the policy of our administration is to stand firmly with our NATO allies and to stand firmly behind our Article 5 commitment that an attack on one is an attack on all.”

In Georgia, officials said Pence will highlight U.S. support for the Caucasus nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili said on July 27 that Pence’s visit will demonstrate that the United States continues to support Georgia in building a stronger military force.

During Pence’s visit, some 800 Georgian and 1,600 U.S. troops are taking part in the previously planned Noble Partner 2017 exercises. Pence is scheduled to meet with U.S. troops.

Troops from Britain, Germany, Turkey, Ukraine, Slovenia, and Armenia are also taking part.

“The vice president’s presence here is definitely showing that this is not only about military exercises, but it is also showing unification with our values, with our foreign policy targets, and showing a clear message that we are together,” Margvelashvili said.On the last stop, Pence will welcome NATO’s newest member with his stop in Montenegro, whose accession to the alliance in June has infuriated Russia.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, right, and Estonia’s Prime Minister Juri Ratas.

On August 2, he will attend the Adriatic Charter Summit in Montenegro’s capital, Podgorica, U.S. officials said.

Pence was expected to highlight the U.S. commitment to the Western Balkans and stress the need for good governance, political reforms, and rule of law in the region.

The leaders of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia are also scheduled to attend the summit.

Source: NEWEUROPE.

Baltic leaders call for permanent surface-to-air missile deployment

Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite on 20 July backed calls for the permanent deployment of the MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air, air defence, and anti-missile systems to the Baltic states, local media have reported.

“The speed of response to an airborne threat may be crucial. Therefore, it would be appropriate to have such weapons in the Baltic region,” Grybauskaite explained.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskait.

The calls follow Poland’s signature of a memorandum on 6 July to buy the Patriot missile system from the US. The Baltic states currently only possess short-range air defence systems.

Grybauskaite emphasised that the move would ensure greater security for all nations in the area.

Source: IHS Janes.

After Russia Military Threat, Sweden and U.S. Hold Massive Missile Drills

The Kustrobotbatteri 90 launcher is capable of firing Saab Robotsystem 15 (RBS-15) anti-ship missiles from the shore.

Sweden, one of Europe’s last remaining neutral militaries, will host U.S. missile systems and a handful of troops from NATO allies in a marquee exercise this autumn.

Aurora 2017 will be Sweden’s attempt to test its own defenses against what it describes as a “larger, sophisticated opponent.” Over 19,000 Swedish troops will take part across the country, joined by forces from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Lithuania, Norway and the U.S. All but Finland, also nonaligned, are members of NATO.

“They haven’t done something like this in 25, 30 years,” U.S. Army in Europe’s Ben Hodges told Pentagon newspaper Stars and Stripes on Thursday. He confirmed the U.S. will deploy a Patriot missile battery, helicopters and a National Guard tank company to the Scandinavian country for Aurora 2017.

U.S. Patriot Missile Battery.

Concerned by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and military reinforcement, Poland has already agreed to purchase the Patriot system, while Lithuania has called on the U.S. to deploy a battery on its turf.

“Deterrence lies at the core of a strong defense, one that rises to all threats and overcomes all challenges,” the Swedish armed forces’ description of the September drill reads. “It is designed to deter potential attackers, and force them to carefully consider the risks of attacking our country.”

Running in parallel is a major Russian drill on the other side of the Baltic Sea, which nearby Lithuania has already condemned as a “simulating an attack” on NATO. Concern of a clash with Russia has run high in Europe’s northeast, where neutral states or U.S. allies share the most considerable borders with Russia.

Aurora will take place across Sweden, including the solitary island of Gotland, which was demilitarized after the Soviet Union’s collapse and which Sweden has more recently rearmed in a symbolic indicator of Stockholm’s concerns over current Russian foreign policy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already warned Stockholm that Russia will have to respond in some way should Sweden opt to join NATO.

Source: Newsweek.

Romania says any Patriot missile system buy meant to boost defence

 

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

Romanian military purchases are not intended to put strain on relations with nearby Russia but to strengthen the country’s defences, President Klaus Iohannis said on Saturday.

Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department said it has approved the possible sale of seven Patriot missile defence systems worth $3.9 billion to Romania.

A NATO member since 2004 and European Union member since 2007, Romania has committed to boost its defence spending to two percent of gross domestic product this year.

Asked whether talk of acquiring Patriot missiles and recent military drills were straining relations with Russia, Iohannis told reporters: “Firstly, we must look at what these acquisitions are for.”

“We are not getting ready to attack anyone. We are preparing … for our army to benefit from modern, efficient features. They are meant to defend us, to guarantee the security of Romanians.”

Asked whether recent regional military exercises could deter Russia, Iohannis said “Of course they could, and I think they do so.”

Russia, whose annexation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 prompted concern among NATO’s eastern members such as Poland and the Baltic states, has said NATO was threatening stability in Eastern Europe by building up its military presence there and staging war games.

A final decision by Romania to buy the missile defences systems, whose prime contractors would be Raytheon Co and Lockheed Martin Corp, has yet to be announced by the country’s defence ministry.

Source: Reuters.

Air defense exercise kicks off in Lithuania

VILNIUS – The Tobruq Legacy 2017 air defense exercise gets underway in the district of Siauliai, in northern Lithuania, on Tuesday.

The drills involve around 500 troops and some 30 air defense systems from Lithuania and another four NATO member states.

The US has deployed Patriot long-range anti-aircraft missiles in Lithuania to take part in the war games.

The US-organized Tobruq Legacy 2017 drills will also take place in the Czech Republic and Romania. The Lithuanian Air Force participates in the annual exercise for the third time.

Original article: The Baltic Times.

U.S. demonstrates steadfast commitment to Lithuania’s security by deploying Patriot Missile System

On July 10 the United States of America is for the first deploying Patriot long-range missile system in Lithuania. The deployment demonstrates the steadfast U.S. commitment to the security of Lithuania and its high readiness to send strategic capabilities to the region.

The Patriot will be operating in one pool with Lithuanian and other NATO allies’ air defence systems during Exercise Tobruq Legacy 2017, multinational ground based air defence units exercise for the first time held in Lithuania.

The exercise will train interoperability among NATO ground based air defence units and refine airspace command and control procedures. The exercise aims at enhancing regional and international integration of joint units thus training and strengthening preparedness for a potential NATO collective defence scenario.

Exercise Tobruq Legacy 2017 begins in July 11 to run until July 22 in Šiauliai district. The event will involve roughly 500 soldiers and 30 air defence systems of Lithuania and four more NATO allies – the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Latvia, and Poland.

Tobruq Legacy 2017 will be conducted concurrently in Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Romania under the command of Romania-based Joint Force Air Component Command (NATO JFAC) that will include members of the Lithuanian Air Force. Lithuanian units will also train night air defence operations control at the portion of the exercise in the Czech Republic.

National Exercise Vigilant Falcon 2017 in Lithuania will be an integral part of Tobruq Legacy 2017. The exercise will enhance interoperability and command and control procedures among units of the Lithuanian Air Force.

The host of Exercise Tobruq Legacy 2017 is the United States of America. This is the third time the Lithuanian Air Force is among the participants. In 2015 soldiers of the Lithuanian Air Force were for the first time training NATO air defence operations in a platoon-sized unit in the Czech Republic, in a battery-sized unit in Slovakia – in 2016, and this year representatives of the Lithuanian Air Force will practice joint actions with NATO allies and providing command to a ground based Air Defence Battalion-level unit.

Original article: Ministry of National Defence, Republic of Lithuania.

Poland says signs memorandum to buy Patriot missile system from U.S.

The Patriot Missile and Air Defense System

The U.S. agreed to sell Patriot missile defence systems to Poland in a memorandum signed on Wednesday night, Poland’s Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said.

“A memorandum was signed tonight that the U.S. government has agreed to sell Poland Patriot missiles in the most modern configuration,” Macierewicz said in a news conference broadcast on public television on Thursday morning.

“I am glad that I can pass on this information on the day of President’s Trump visit to Warsaw,” Macierewicz also said.

U.S. President Donald Trump arrived on Wednesday in Warsaw where the White House said he would showcase his commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in a speech and in meetings with a group of nations closest to Russia on his way to the G20 summit in Germany on Friday and Saturday.

In March Poland said it expected to sign a deal worth up to $7.6 billion with U.S. firm Raytheon to buy eight Patriot missile defence systems by the end of the year.

Warsaw sees the deal as central to a thorough modernisation of its armed forces by 2023.

Original article: Reuters, Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Toby Chopra.

 

Poland could break off US talks on anti-missile shield: report

The Patriot Missile and Air Defense System

Radio Poland, 26 June 2017

Poland could break off negotiations with the US to purchase a Patriot anti-missile shield over a disagreement about the deal, the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna daily has said.

The reason for the disagreement “is the lack of consent” of the US administration on the transfer of technology, which is “crucial” for Poland, the daily said in its issue on Monday.

An Integrated Air and Missile Battle Command System (IBCS), which the Polish Defence Ministry is demanding, is not even owned by the US Army, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna said.

The IBCS is an integral part of the Patriot missile system, and if negations about it fall through, the whole deal could be scrapped. “During last week’s visit by Deputy [Defence] Minister Bartosz Kownacki to the United States, representatives of the US Department of Defense maintained their position … not to consent to the transfer of technology which Poland so strongly insists on,” the paper added.

The Patriot missile system produced by US manufacturer Raytheon was chosen as Poland’s future anti-ballistic missile system by the Civic-Platform led government in April 2015, seeing off competition from an MBDA and Thales consortium offering Aster 30 missiles.

Following the victory of the Law and Justice party in elections in 2015, the government re-examined defence tenders, including both the Patriot system and a purchase of French Caracal helicopters. The latter has since been cancelled.

Late last year, Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz confirmed plans to purchase the American Patriot missile defence system, ending months of speculation. It has previously been reported that the Patriot contract might be worth PLN 10-12 billion (EUR 2.3-2.8 billion).

Poland expected to receive a favourable offset deal, with the transfer of 69 technologies and significant investment in the Polish defence industry.

 

 

 

Reuters: Bracing for Russian military exercise, Lithuania puts up a border fence

Photo from pasienis.lt

UNIAN INFORMATION AGENCY, 7 June 2017

Lithuania has began constructing a two-meter high wire fence along its border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad ahead of military exercises Moscow is planning to hold there in September, according to Reuters.

While the 45-km-long (30 mile) fence will provide little defense against a full-scale attack, it aims to prevent provocations and incidents, Lithuanian Interior Minister Eimutis Misiunas said on Monday, Reuters reported.

“In order to avoid such situations, we decided we need the fence”, Misiunas said at the groundbreaking ceremony. For Lithuania and other Baltic republics, which won their independence from Moscow in 1991 but remain home to ethnic Russian minorities, any massing of Russian troops near their borders spreads concern, especially since the 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula by Moscow.

The Ukraine has adequately reacted to Russia’s snap combat readiness drills on borders, although Russia has not disclosed the size of the Zapad (West) exercises that it holds every four years on its western borders, analysts have said that this year’s drill may be the largest in quarter of a century, with a movement of about 100,000 Russian troops expected.

The recent deployment of 1,000 NATO troops to Poland and each of the Baltic states has unnerved Moscow, which had warned in January that it was a bad idea. The United States will have doubled its troops in the region for the duration of the military exercises, an official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In July, the U.S. Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM) missile battery will be deployed in Lithuania for two weeks in July, for the first time in the region where Russia has air superiority. The fence, which is to cost 3.6 million euros, is to define clearly the geographical border between Kaliningrad and Lithuania. Surveillance equipment installed alongside will give an early warning of any violation, the minister said.