The U.S. will deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense interceptor to Romania this summer, a first for the European continent since Russia’s encroachment into Eastern Europe and its annexation of Crimea in 2014.
On 11 April, NATO confirmed the US plans to deploy of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system to Romania.
According to a news release put out by NATO officials, the United States will fulfill its commitment to NATO’s Ballistic Missile Defence by the temporary deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to Deveselu in Romania.
“The THAAD unit will be under NATO operational control and the full political control of the North Atlantic Council. It will only remain operational until the Aegis Ashore Romania site is back online. The update and deployment are expected to last several weeks,” said in news release.
What is THAAD?
The deployment came at the request of NATO and is needed while maintenance is done on the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System in Romania, U.S. European Command said.
The THAAD unit, which comes from the Fort Hood, Texas-based 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, will operate at Naval Support Facility Deveselu. Once in place, NATO’s Allied Air Command will assume operational control of the unit, EUCOM said.
“This site provides a defensive capability to deter future conflicts and to defend ourselves and our NATO allies, should deterrence fail,” EUCOM said.
U.S. missile defense efforts in Europe, which include Navy ships based in Spain and another ground-based site in Poland, are focused on countering threats by rogue nations like Iran. US officials say the system is not designed to counter Russia, but Moscow has complained about the basing of U.S. systems in Europe that it says pose a threat.
The scheduled update to Aegis Ashore Romania is part of regular planned maintenance taking place on all U.S. Aegis systems, EUCOM said. The update will not add any offensive capabilities to the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System, the command said.
“THAAD will remain operational in Romania only while Aegis Ashore maintenance and updates are taking place during the summer,” EUCOM said.
More recently, THAAD was deployed to Israel for the first time in March. Under the Pentagon’s direction, EUCOM deployed the missile battery to Israel to show “that U.S. forces are agile, and can respond quickly and unpredictably to any threat, anywhere, at any time,” EUCOM said last month.
The only other country that operates THAAD is the United Arab Emirates, which purchased the system from its manufacturer, Lockheed Martin Corp., in 2012.