Skip to comments.U.S. Aegis destroyers leave North Korea watch
Posted on 07/07/2006 8:39:17 PM PDT by HAL9000
The U.S. Navy's two Aegis-equipped destroyers temporarily left the waters in the Sea of Japan and the Pacific side of Japan where they had been deployed to detect and track North Korea's missile launches, U.S. administration sources said Friday.
The move stems from North Korea's failed test of a Taepodong-2 long-range ballistic missile and a U.S. assessment that it will take time for the North to prepare to launch another one.
The two destroyers, the Curtis Wilbur and Fitzgerald, had been deployed in those waters since North Korea accelerated its preparation over the past weeks to launch the Taepodong-2, which is believed to be capable of reaching the United States.
The United States has reportedly confirmed that North Korea has another Taepodong-2 missile at the same northeastern launch site. The long-range missile was among the seven missiles fired on Wednesday, and the other ones were short-range Scuds and medium-range Rodongs.
But the United States has assessed that it will take at least a week to place the second Taepodong-2 on the launch pad and fuel it.
The two U.S. destroyers are stationed at a U.S. naval base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, where the Navy is set to move the most advanced Aegis cruiser Shiloh next month from Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
In an interview Thursday, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Mullen said the Shiloh will be the first ship capable of intercepting ballistic missiles and explained that other Aegis-equipped vessels are only able to detect and track missiles.
In a missile defense test off Hawaii last month, the Shiloh fired a Standard Missile-3 interceptor and shot down a warhead separated from a medium-range ballistic missile outside the earth's atmosphere.
Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force has also deployed its Aegis ships, and its Aegis destroyer Kirishima has cut short its itinerary and headed home late last month from U.S.-led international naval exercises off Hawaii.
But the details of their whereabouts are unknown.
The Kirishima also took part in last month's U.S. missile defense test, becoming the first Japanese vessel to join the U.S. tests. It performed long-range surveillance and tracking exercises together with another U.S. Aegis destroyer as the Shiloh shot down the missile.
So, about, say, ten seconds away?
I guess we will have to wait until the New York Times blows their cover.
My money says that it was the Kirishima that knocked down the Taepo Dong 2.
My guess is that they're pulling back to a tender out in the Pacific somewhere to reload their empty VLS cells.
Hope it was a useful exercise. The time is past when our forces can march around, fly in formation, or pull into some foreign port and expect everyone to go "Wooow". No doubt we have the greatest fighting forces in the world, but the real measure is in how quickly they can get to a conflict and decisively win.
NK's missiles are obviously an aggressor's offensive weapon. A deterrent would be launch-able in hours.
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