Spain Hosts US Ships for NATO Missile Defense: Spain will port four US Navy Aegis ships at Rota on the Atlantic coast in support of NATO’s ballistic missile defense umbrella. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made the announcement on Wednesday with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels. “With four Aegis ships at Rota . . . the alliance is significantly boosting combined naval capabilities in the Mediterranean and enhancing our ability to ensure the security of this vital region,” stated Panetta on the first day of his two days of meetings with alliance defense ministers. The ships carry anti-missile interceptors. They will be part of the Obama Administration’s European Phased Adaptive Approach architecture to shoot down threat missiles emanating from the Middle East. Already, Poland and Romania have agreed to host US land-based interceptors, while Turkey will be the site of a US missile tracking radar. (Includes AFPS report by Cheryl Pellerin)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.