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US basing two more destroyers in Spain

Arleigh Burke destroyers in Spain
US Navy file photo of destroyers at Naval Station Rota, Spain.

US president Joe Biden and his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sánchez have agreed an increase in the number of US Navy destroyers based in Spain.

According to the White House, two more Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers equipped with the Aegis weapon system will be based at Naval Station Rota in the future, bringing the total number of destroyers forward-deployed to Spain to six.

The White House is yet to reveal which destroyers will be deployed to boost Europe’s missile defense, or when they are scheduled to arrive there.

What is certain is that they will be joining USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51), USS Ross (DDG 71), USS Porter (DDG 78) and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) that are already part of Forward Deployed Naval Forces- Europe. USS Paul Ignatius is also in the European theater and will be replacing either USS Porter or USS Roosevelt as part of the US Navy’s long-range plan to equip Rota with newer, more capable destroyers. The plan will also see an additional US Navy helicopter squadron established in Rota by the end of the year.

Announcing the deployment of additional ships to Spain, the White House said they will “help increase the United States’ and NATO’s maritime presence and all the relevant maritime domains in the Euro-Atlantic area.”

This announcement comes as Russia’s invasion in Ukraine has entered its fifth month.

The plans to boost the destroyer presence also preceded the signing of an agreement under which Turkey lifted its veto on Finland and Sweden joining NATO, a decision that has also been spurred by Russia’s actions.

Following the signing of a trilateral agreement, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he had obtained “full cooperation” from Finland and Sweden in the fight “against Kurdish PKK fighters and their allies.”

According to an outline of the agreement, Sweden and Finland have agreed to lift their arms embargoes, amend laws on terrorism, and even share intel with Turkey to get Turkey to lift its veto on their accession.