Missile Defense Agency Director Discusses Threats, Capabilities

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2014 – The Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency continues to develop technology and work with its partners amid growing ballistic missile threats around the world, the agency’s director said here today.

Navy Vice Adm. James D. Syring discussed the Missile Defense Agency’s concerns and its interests in improving capability and capacity during Aviation Week’s Defense Technologies and Requirements Conference.

“All you have to do is read the press over the last week or so,” he said. “You [can] start to piece together what we’re concerned about, and the threat that is posed by the increasing ballistic missile threat around the world.”

North Korea and Iran are testing ballistic missiles, he said, and “the numbers are increasing, and the capability of these ballistic missiles is increasing as well.”

Syring said he and his predecessors have been focused on this issue and other emerging capabilities.

He noted that intelligence officials have briefed Congress on the threats the United States faces. “You heard the testimony over the last month and what the intelligence estimates are on the ability of Iran to test an ICBM by 2015,” he said. “We stand by that.”

The admiral said North Korea’s demonstration of its ability to put a payload into space “means something,” and continues to develop.

“The way I like to talk about this is that many parts of the system architecture are in place. It’s a matter of increasing the capability and the capacity of the systems that are part of the network of ballistic missile defense.”

Syring detailed the agency’s ballistic missile defense ship fleet, the Patriot system, ground-based interceptors, Standard Missile-3s, the Terminal High Altitude Aerial Defense System and Sea-based Terminal Defense. He said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s recent budget preview will support strengthening homeland defense.

This includes deploying an additional 14 interceptors at Fort Greeley, Alaska which will be fielded before the end of 2017.

“We’re planning to deploy an additional radar in Japan … at the site called Kyogamisaki,” Syring added. “It’s a Japanese air defense base. I was just there last week, and it is a perfect site for this radar.” He lauded the Japanese government for its “forthright” partnership in helping make this happen.

The admiral also talked about a new ground-based interceptor site in one of four potential locations, and said the environmental impact statement process is ongoing for the potential sites.

Officials will focus on those four sites over the next 24 months, Syring said, and will develop a contingency plan from a schedule cost and technical standpoint for building a site at any of the four locations.

“We are taking these steps to stay ahead of the challenges posed by Iran and North Korea in terms of what they’re doing with the longer-range ballistic missile defense capability.”

Syring said the desire for missile defense is growing in the Middle East. The United Arab Emirates was the agency’s first discussion in this regard, and other countries are potentially interested.

Syring said the interest in ballistic missile defense capability is “worldwide,” with many challenges around the globe. “I’m confident that with our partners we will come together, and [will] field and answer those calls,” he added.

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