NATO announced Wednesday that it would protect its deployed troops with a new single theater missile defense system by 2010.
"NATO has agreed to give itself a single deployable theatre missile defense capability to give protection to troops against incoming missiles," a NATO official said. "It will combine (existing) national systems (such as the US-made Patriot missile)."
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the system would be a first and would cap 10 years of talks on the issue.
"The importance of being able to defend deployed troops against theatre-range ballistic missiles, such as SCUD missiles, was made apparent during the 1990s," NATO said in a communique.
"As a number of foreign nations continue working on ballistic missile programmes, as well as developing chemical, nuclear, and biological warheads for those missiles, the need for effective defences has increased."
The NATO official said the Western alliance planned to spend roughly 650 million euros on the project.
The decision to launch the program, which will involve all 26 allied members, was made last Friday but only announced Wednesday.