Maine could be chosen as site for missile defense system

A site in northern Maine could be chosen as a location for a new missile defense system meant to knock down nuclear warheads bound for the United States.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Defense said on Friday that they would move forward with plans for environmental impact studies on three possible sites for ballistic missile interceptor systems. The officials did not name locations, though they said two systems would reside on the East Coast and one system would be placed on the West Coast, the Portland Press Herald reports.

A 2012 report recommended a site in northern Maine near the former Loring Air Force Base in Limestone. The report also recommended Fort Drum in upstate New York as a potential site.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) did not confirm whether Limestone or nearby Caribou is on the list for the missile site, but she indicated she would support locating a missile defense system in the area.

"An East Coast missile defense site would provide the East Coast the same defensive coverage that the West Coast already enjoys," Collins said, according to the Portland Press Herald. "Limestone was one of two sites identified in a widely respected and well-received missile defense report by the National Academy of Sciences last year. I believe it would compete well against other potential locations."

The NAS report found serious gaps in the nation's defense system against intercontinental ballistic missiles, particularly for the East Coast.

Collins said North Korea poses a considerable threat and that Iran could one day be able to strike the United States, the Portland Press Herald reports.

"Therefore, my colleagues and I have required the administration to begin an 18-month review to identify where it would build an East Coast missile defense site as a part of last year's defense bill," Collins said, according to the Portland Press Herald. "I hope Secretary Hagel will announce a commitment to the construction of an East Coast missile defense site soon to signal that this administration is taking the looming threat from Iran with the utmost seriousness."

Organizations in this story

U.S. Department of Defense 2 N Rotary Rd Arlington, VA 22202

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