The Polish military issues discussion website Defence24 reported that the US twice delivered MK70 PDS (Payload Delivery System) containerized vertical missile launchers to the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea.

The equipment was delivered by US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. In September 2023 the US army’s Typhon vehicle mounted version of the system and then in May when the normally ship-mounted US navy versions were placed on the island.

Bornholm, affectionately called a “moored missile cruiser” by the NATO military lies less than 300 kilometers from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. The deployments were intended to test the US capability of rapidly deploying the systems in defense of NATO’s eastern flank and at the same time signal that Moscow’s fleets based in the area were at risk.

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This intention was not lost on Russia. Adm. Vladimir Kasatonov, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, wrote an article in the Ministry of Defense in-house magazine Military Thought, in which he said: “The presence of Tomahawk cruise missiles with a range of 2,400 km in the Typhon complex will create a threat of destruction of naval forces and facilities in the basing areas. Taking into account the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO, this threat to the Baltic and Northern fleets will only increase.”

The typhon launchers are designed to be capable of firing a range of missiles including the RIM-161 SM 3 air defense missile, the RIM-174 SM-6 Extended Range multi-role missile, and Tomahawk cruise missiles; the latter fitted with either conventional or nuclear warheads.

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The US Department of Defense was at pains to point out, in the official statements made at the time of the deployments, that the transfer was made only for training purposes, and the container launchers contained only SM-3 missiles, not Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Nevertheless, the transfer of the MK70 PDS sends out strong political message and militarily indicates the ability of the US to rapidly reinforce the region. Poland holds three similar launchers, with a total of 24 missiles at the Redzikowo base, itself just over 200 kilometers from Kaliningrad.

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The choice and location of Bornholm is also of symbolic importance. Positioning a system that is capable of launching air defense, anti-ballistic missile, anti-ship, anti-submarine and cruise missiles makes it possible to effectively close the Baltic Sea to Russian aircraft, missiles, and naval vessels with very little notice and with a short deployment time.

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