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Boeing awarded $80 million to begin planning missile defense system

RIA Novosti

27/07/2007 09:33 WASHINGTON, July 27 (RIA Novosti) - The Pentagon has awarded Boeing $80 million to begin planning and building two missile defense systems to be based in Poland and the Czech Republic, a spokesman for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said.

Rick Lehner said that under the contract, Boeing will deliver 10 interceptor missiles to a site in Poland and will move a large radar system from the U.S. Marshall Islands to the Czech Republic. A smaller, mobile radar system will also be deployed.

The project, which will come into effect once Congress approves a $310 million supplemental budget request for the European missile defense program under President George Bush's 2008 proposed budget, is expected to be worth $3.5 billion through 2013.

The planned American missile defense system has drawn Russia's ire, particularly as it will be based on the territories of its erstwhile Soviet allies and is considered by many in the Russian defense establishment as provocative and a direct challenge to the country's security.

Following bitter denunciations by leading Russian military and government officials, including threats to target Europe with strategic weapons once again, President Vladimir Putin recently sought to tone down tensions by proposing the joint use of a Soviet-era radar system in Azerbaijan.

However, U.S. experts have questioned whether the Russian facility would be compatible with American systems, and have insisted that plans for the European-based systems would go ahead.

According to a recent opinion poll, an overwhelming majority of Americans - 84% - support the creation of an anti-ballistic missile system (ABM) to defend the continental United States, and 70% favor its deployment in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The survey, conducted by the polling company Opinion Research, showed that 81% of Americans consider the subject of missile defense highly important and want presidential candidates to make their views on the topic known, while 71% believe Congress has an obligation to finance such a system in full.

The results reflect unequivocal public support for a Senate resolution amending the 2008 defense budget, passed in mid-July, which makes the creation of an ABM system to protect the U.S. and its European allies official government policy.

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