The U.S. Army is deploying a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to Romania this summer while the Aegis Ashore system undergoes maintenance, United States European Command (EUCOM) said Thursday.

EUCOM said the THAAD will be deployed to integrate with the NATO ballistic missile defense (BMD) architecture “during a limited period of scheduled maintenance and updates” on the Romanian Aegis Ashore system during the summer.

A THAAD interceptor is launched from Kodiak, Alaska during Flight Experiment THAAD (FET)-01 on July 30, 2017. (Photo: Missile Defense Agency)

THAAD will support the Aegis Ashore mission at Naval Support Facility Deveselu. Once the THAAD system is in place, NATO’s Allied Air Command will assume operational control for the duration of the mission. THAAD will only remain operational while the Aegis Ashore system is undergoing its maintenance and update work.

EUCOM said the Aegis Ashore update is part of “regular updates taking place on all U.S. Aegis systems.”

THAAD will be sent from the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. The Secretary of Defense ordered the deployment at the behest of NATO.

The Defense Department underscored the update will not add any offensive capabilities to the Aegis Ashore system, a perennial concern of Russia.

“This preplanned and temporary THAAD deployment demonstrates U.S. commitment to the defense of our allies and provides deterrence against potential adversaries outside the European theater,” EUCOM said in a statement

The Romanian Aegis Ashore system has been active since 2016 and is part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) to defend U.S. forces and European allies against potential ballistic missile attacks.

EPAA is made of an AN/TPY-2 radar in Turkey and two Aegis Ashore sites, one in Romania and another in Poland. The Polish system has been dealing with construction delays and will not be operational until 2020.

Last month, EUCOM deployed a THAAD system to Israel for missile defense exercises with the Israel Defense Forces (Defense Daily, March 4).