While in Korea for our Global Network annual conference we were taken to Pyeongtaek where the US is dramatically expanding a military base. There we were shown nearly a dozen mobile PAC-3 (Patriot Advanced Capability) launchers parked just beyond the razor-wired fence.
Lockheed Martin describes their PAC-3 system as "the world’s most advanced, capable and powerful terminal air defense missile. It defeats the entire threat: tactical ballistic missiles carrying weapons of mass destruction, cruise missiles and aircraft. The PAC-3 Missile is a high velocity interceptor that defeats incoming targets by direct, body-to-body [kinetic] impact."
The PAC-3 program has been developed for the Pentagon at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.
Currently the US is deploying the PAC-3 in South Korea, Japan, Iraq, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Kuwait, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Taiwan, and Israel. The Pentagon has also recently signed a deal to deploy PAC-3 in Poland.
Turkey has also recently shown interest in acquiring a similar system but has been talking with competitors of the US weapons industry about buying the technology from them. However, Washington has been pressuring Ankara to consider potential "NATO interoperability problems" that could occur should Turkey opt for a non-Western solution. Subtle arm twisting you might say.
The PAC-3 system, along with THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system, are the new "layered look" for the Pentagon's missile defense program. The mobile THAAD, designed to shoot down short-and medium-range ballistic missiles, are also being heavily deployed in Japan and South Korea along with PAC-3 in order to serve as key elements of US first-strike strategy aimed at China.
Add the Navy's Aegis destroyer, also outfitted with missile defense interceptors and being deployed in the Asian-Pacific region, into the scheme and you get the full picture of this theater-wide program to take out "the enemy" retaliatory missiles after a US first-strike.