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The Missile Defense Agency announced Thursday the names of the next six ships that will join the Navy's ballistic missile defense fleet, all of which are stationed on the East Coast.
The upgrade will go to five destroyers from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.: Ross and Donald Cook in fiscal 2012, and Cole, McFaul and Porter in fiscal 2013. One ship from Naval Station Mayport, Fla., the Carney, will get the BMD upgrade in fiscal 2012.
MDA's current goal is to have 21 BMD ships by the end of 2010; 24 in 2012; and 27 around 2013, said Scott Perry, an Aegis BMD official with MDA. He spoke in a Surface Navy Association presentation Thursday outside Washington.
Earlier at that same presentation, Rear Adm. Frank Pandolfe, director of surface warfare for the Navy Staff, said planners eventually wanted to add ballistic missile defense to many or all the Aegis ships in the Navy's fleet, which will include 22 cruisers and some 62 destroyers.
The Navy was tasked in September with providing standing ballistic missile protection to Europe, in addition to its mission protecting Japan, and combatant commanders continue to ask for BMD coverage, which means the fleet should be as big as possible, Pandolfe said.
"The goal is to have nearly every Aegis ship BMD capable in time, so they all, or nearly all, provide this critical capability to the fleet."
Engineers are working now on adding the BMD upgrade to the Norfolk cruisers Vella Gulf and Monterey, Perry said. Navy officials said Thursday that today's plans call for the next cruisers to get BMD capability in fiscal 2015 and 16, although a Navy spokeswoman said officials have not yet decided which ships those will be.