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The Pentagon evaluates missile defense sites on the US West Coast: officials

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (Reuters) – The US agency charged with protecting the country from missile attacks is looking at the West Coast for new missile defenses, two congressmen said on Saturday, while Korea's missile tests North Americans raise concerns about how the United States would defend itself against an attack.

FILE PHOTO: An interceptor from the High Altitude Area of ​​the Defense Area (THAAD) is launched during a successful interception test, in this undated photo provided by the US Department of Defense. UU., Missile Defense Agency. US Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency / Brochure through Reuters / File Photo

West Coast defenses would likely include anti-ballistic missiles from the High Altitude Zone (THAAD), similar to those deployed in South Korea to protect against a possible North Korean attack

The accelerated pace of North Korea's ballistic missile test program in 2017 and the likelihood that the North Korean armed forces will hit the continent with a nuclear charge in the coming years the pressure on the United States government has increased to accumulate missiles. defenses

On Wednesday, North Korea tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can fly more than 13,000 km (8,080 miles), putting Washington within the target range, South Korea said on Friday.

Republican Congressman Mike Rogers, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and chair of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee that oversees missile defense, said the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) had the goal of installing additional defenses in the sites of the west coast. The funds for the system do not appear in the 2018 defense budget plan, which indicates that the potential deployment is further away.

"It's just a matter of location, and MDA makes a recommendation on which site meets its location criteria, but also the environmental impact," the Alabama congressman told Reuters during an interview under the annual Reagan . National Defense Forum in Southern California.

After this story was published, Congressman Rogers told Reuters in a statement that he "was unaware of the Department of Defense's efforts to locate additional intermediate missile defense assets on the West Coast." He added that his earlier comments to Reuters "should not be interpreted as confirmation of such an effort".

Reuters global communications chief Abbe Serphos said: "We support our story."

When asked about the plan, MDA Deputy Mayor, Rear Admiral Jon Hill, said in a statement: "The Missile Defense Agency has not received any task to deploy the High Air Defense System of the Terminal on the west coast ".

The MDA is a unit of the US Department of Defense. UU

Rep. Rogers did not disclose the exact locations the agency is considering, but said several sites are "competing" for missile defense facilities.

Rogers and Congressman Adam Smith, a Democrat representing District 9 in Washington, said the government was considering installing the THAAD anti-missile system manufactured by aerospace giant Lockheed Martin Corp on sites on the west coast.

The congressmen said that the number of sites that could finally be deployed had not yet been determined.

THAAD is a ground-based regional missile defense system designed to shoot down short, medium and medium-range ballistic missiles, and takes only a few weeks to install.

In addition to the two THAAD systems deployed in South Korea and Guam in the Pacific, the USA. UU They have seven other THAAD systems. While some of the existing missiles are based in Fort Bliss, Texas, the system is very mobile and current locations are not disclosed.

A Lockheed Martin representative declined to comment on specific THAAD deployments, but added that the company "is ready to support the Missile Defense Agency and the United States government in its defense efforts against ballistic missiles" . He added that the testing and deployment of assets is a government decision

. In July, the United States tested the THAAD missile defenses and shot down an intermediate-range simulated ballistic missile (IRBM). The successful test adds to the credibility of the US Army's missile defense program. UU., Which has been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent years due in part to the delays and failures of the tests.

Currently, the continental United States is protected primarily by the land-based Midcourse defense system (GMD) in Alaska and California, as well as by the Aegis system deployed on board the US Navy ships. UU The THAAD system has a much higher test success rate than the GMD.

The MDA told Congress in June that it planned to deliver 52 more THAAD interceptors to the US Army. UU Between October 2017 and September 2018, bringing total deliveries to 210 from May 2011.

North Korea's latest missile test within range, but Pyongyang still needs to demonstrate that it has mastered the critical technology of missiles, such as re-entry, guidance in the terminal scenario and activation of the warhead, said South Korea on Friday.

Reports by Mike Stone in Simi Valley, California, additional reports by Michelle Price and Michael Perry; Chris Sanders edition

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