The US military is planning to expand missile interception efforts in the Pacific Ocean by equipping 18 ships with such capability in next three years, US media reported Monday.
At present, there is only one ship in the US Pacific Fleet, namely the USS Lake Erie, is capable of missile interception.
The planned expansion is part of the ongoing US efforts to rapidly build up its missile defense network around the Pacific Rim.
Earlier this month, the US military installed new interceptors in underground silos in Alaska and California.
Moreover, early next year, a new high-powered missile-tracking radar will arrive at its new base in the Aleutian Islands while a similar radar may later be installed in northern Japan.
Adm. Gary Roughead, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, said in a recent interview with US media that the US military is making "very good progress" in ballistic missile defense system.
However, some US military experts said that the interceptors being equipped aboard ships and in underground silos, are not yet ready to be used in the field.
Phil Coyle, the former chief Pentagon weapons tester in the Clinton administration, said US interceptor tests have so far only been conducted under highly scripted circumstances.
As a result, he said, it is unrealistic to expect that they would perform as well in a real attack.
(Xinhua News Agency December 27, 2005)