A Sea Hawk approaches the guided-missile destroyer Decatur (DDG 73) during a vertical replenishment Dec. 19. (MCS 2nd Class Deven B. King / Navy)
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WASHINGTON — The two U.S. Navy destroyers deployed in the Pacific are equipped with sophisticated radar and missiles capable of reacting quickly if the increasingly bellicose North Koreans fire off a missile, the Pentagon and military officials say.
“They will be poised to respond to any missile threats to our allies or our territory,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said Tuesday.
The Pentagon has said the USS John S. McCain and Decatur, both Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, are deployed in the region.
Their deployment follows announcements about bomber training in South Korea and the movement of two F-22, radar-evading fighter jets to South Korea.
The North Koreans have ramped up provocative rhetoric in recent days, worrying the United States and its allies in the region.
Aegis radar, which gives the ships a 360-degree continuous radar picture, eliminates blind spots found in normal radar. The destroyers also have interceptor missiles.
The radar on the destroyers can be tied into ground-based radar and missile systems, augmenting missile-defense networks.
The McCain is shore-based in Japan, but the San Diego-based Decatur was operating in the Middle East region and was headed home when the Pentagon had it delay its return in response to recent North Korean provocations.
The U.S. Navy has 26 ballistic missile defense ships such as the McCain and Decatur, according to military documents, including 16 in the Pacific.