The European missile shield is all set to go live today to protect NATO members in Europe, Reuters reported.
The shield will be declared operational by US and NATO officials at a remote air base in Deveselu, Romania, after years of planning, billions of dollars in investment and failed attempts to assuage Russian concerns that the shield could be used against Moscow amid high tension between Russia and the West.
"We now have the capability to protect NATO in Europe," said Robert Bell, a NATO-based envoy of US Defense Secretary Ash Carter. "The Iranians are increasing their capabilities, and we have to be ahead of that. The system is not aimed against Russia," he was quoted as saying by Reuters on Wednesday, adding that the system will soon be handed over to NATO command.
The US will also start construction on a second site in Poland on Friday that is due to be ready in 2018, giving NATO a permanent, around-the-clock shield in the alliance's northern reaches in addition to radar and ships already in the Mediterranean.
The shield relies on radars to detect a ballistic missile launch into space. Tracking sensors then measure the rocket's trajectory and intercept and destroy it in space before it re-enters the earth's atmosphere. The interceptors can be fired from ships or ground sites.