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    U.S. missile defense threat to stability - Russian AF official-1

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    U.S. missile defense deployment in Central Europe poses a serious threat to Russia's national security and could undermine strategic stability in the world, a high-ranking Russian Air Force official said Tuesday.

    (Adds details in paragraphs 2, 4-11)

    MOSCOW, March 20 (RIA Novosti) - U.S. missile defense deployment in Central Europe poses a serious threat to Russia's national security and could undermine strategic stability in the world, a high-ranking Russian Air Force official said Tuesday.

    The United States plans to deploy a radar installation in the Czech Republic and a missile base in Poland by 2011-2012, saying the shield is needed to counter possible attacks from Iran and North Korea.

    Chief of Air Force Staff Colonel General Boris Cheltsov said such deployment, along with other factors, gives the Pentagon and its NATO allies the potential "to hit our strategic nuclear forces at their most vulnerable - initial or ascending - section of their flight trajectory."

    Moscow, which has long been concerned about NATO's further eastward expansion, also said the proposed deployment is a destabilizing factor for Europe and pledged to take adequate measures to counter the U.S. move, including the revision of its current military doctrine to better reflect the changes in the geopolitical situation.

    Speaking about the future military doctrine, Cheltsov said it should clearly outline the priorities in the development of various branches of the Russian Armed Forces that correspond to their role in providing adequate protection of national interests on both strategic and regional levels.

    The general said financing for the development of the Russian Air Force should be doubled at least, and requires a 20% increase in personnel following the upcoming structural reforms of the Armed Forces that envision the merger of the Air Defense Forces and the Air Force.

    "We should not find ourselves in a situation where the new branch of the Armed Forces comprising former Air Defense Forces and the Air Force has only a 12-14% share of the defense budget and a 15% share in the overall number of military personnel," Cheltsov said.

    Without these drastic changes, Russia will not be able to develop an effective aerospace defense network, comprising elements of air, missile and space defenses.

    The official said the foundation of this network was laid out in the beginning of the 1990s when the Air Defense Forces exercised centralized command over all elements of aerospace defense. However, after military reforms under Boris Yeltsin this network practically ceased to exist until 2004.

    Colonel General Yury Solovyov, commander of the Air Defense Forces Special Command (former Moscow Military District Air Defense Command), said last week that Russia's new aerospace defense concept requires "a return to the organizational structure that was in operation before the 1997 reforms and the reintegration of certain missile defense, air defense and air force units."

    "Control over all elements of aerospace defense must be exercised from a single center," he said.

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