Gathering defenses

The first phase of the U.S. military's missile defense shield for Europe is on track to become operational in 2011. The Pentagon says the largely sea-based system, to be expanded in stages through 2020, will be more flexible and comprehensive than the George W. Bush administration's plan to rely solely on land-based interceptors. It is designed to cover the entire European continent by 2018 and to be able to intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles, capable of reaching the United States, by 2020.

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