Funds sought for de­fen­sive radar for isles

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - LOCAL / BUSINESS - By Wil­liam Cole wcole@starad­ver­tiser.com

The U.S. Mis­sile De­fense Agency is re­quest­ing $96 mil­lion in fis­cal 2019 that would go to­ward the in­stal­la­tion of two pow­er­ful radars in the Pa­cific — in­clud­ing one newly an­nounced — to counter North Korean threats.

The agency is seek­ing $62.2 mil­lion in fund­ing for the Home­land De­fense Radar-Hawaii, which will di­rectly aid the state and “pro­vide a per­sis­tent, long-range ac­qui­si­tion and dis­crim­i­na­tion ca­pa­bil­ity” for in­com­ing bal­lis­tic mis­siles, ac­cord­ing to a new bud­get es­ti­mate.

“Dis­crim­i­na­tion” refers to iden­ti­fy­ing war­heads amid de­coys and rocket parts.

Con­struc­tion on the Hawaii radar is ex­pected to start in fis­cal year 2021. Phase 1 (FY 2021,

$138 mil­lion) funds a mis­sion con­trol fa­cil­ity and Phase 2 (FY 2022, $183 mil­lion) funds the power plant in­clud­ing fuel stor­age and as­so­ci­ated site sup­port, a bud­get re­port said.

The agency sought $21 mil­lion last year for the new Hawaii radar, which is ex­pected to have ini­tial op­er­at­ing ca­pa­bil­ity in 2023. A site hasn’t been se­lected yet. The fed­eral fis­cal year be­gins Oct. 1.

The Mis­sile De­fense Agency also is re­quest­ing $33.5 mil­lion to­ward a new Home­land De­fense Radar-Pa­cific to be con­structed at a still-un­named lo­ca­tion.

“So one of the things that we need to do is main­tain the cus­tody of the threat from birth to death,” Gary Pen­nett, the Mis­sile De­fense Agency’s di­rec­tor of oper­a­tions, said at a Tues­day press brief­ing. “And so with ter­res­trial-based radars, we have to put them in lo­ca­tions that we can main­tain cus­tody (of a bal­lis­tic mis­sile in flight).”

For­ward-based radars in Ja­pan have lim­ited reach. A $784 mil­lion Long-Range Dis­crim­i­na­tion Radar is be­ing built in Alaska, but that won’t cover Hawaii.

The radar ad­vances are be­ing pur­sued in par­al­lel with on­go­ing mis­sile de­fense test­ing. On Jan. 31, a mis­sile launched from the Aegis Ashore site on Kauai failed to in­ter­cept an in­ter­me­di­ate-range bal­lis­tic mis­sile tar­get. The new de­fen­sive SM-3 Block IIA mis­sile, co-de­vel­oped with Ja­pan, is ex­pected to be de­liv­ered to Poland and for use by Navy Aegis ships later this year.

The mis­sile is seen as hav­ing the po­ten­tial to de­fend Hawaii in the fu­ture from North Korean in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles. ICBMs can travel in ex­cess of 15,000 miles per hour, or al­most 20 times the speed of sound.

In the Jan. 31 test, the SM-3 IIA failed to im­pact a tar­get mis­sile dropped from a cargo air­plane, but an “en­gage-on-re­mote” func­tion us­ing an AN/TPY-2 radar on Wake Is­land to cue the SM-3 IIA was suc­cess­ful.

Ad­vance cue­ing from a va­ri­ety of radars al­lows greater lead time in the over-the-hori­zon in­ter­cepts.

“We’re do­ing a fail­ure re­view board, but every­thing that was sup­posed to hap­pen, up un­til (and) in­clud­ing the launch of the in­ter­cep­tor, did as it was sup­posed to do, and the in­ter­cep­tor it­self failed to ac­tu­ally achieve the in­ter­cept,” Pen­nett said. “So we be­lieve that it has to do di­rectly, specif­i­cally, with the in­ter­cep­tor it­self (and) not from the cue­ing sen­sors, not from the radar sen­sors, not from the com­mand con­trol.”

In Novem­ber, the Mis­sile De­fense Agency em­placed the 44th ground-based in­ter­cep­tor, with 40 of the de­fen­sive mis­siles in Alaska and four in Cal­i­for­nia. The mis­siles pro­vide de­fense for Hawaii from North Korean ICBMs.

Also within the Mis­sile De­fense Agency’s $9.9 bil­lion over­all bud­get sub­mis­sion is the re­quest for $150 mil­lion for Pearl Har­bor’s Sea-Based X-Band Radar. In the face of the North Korean threat, the agency wants to con­tinue to ex­tend the SBX’s at-sea time.

The Hawaii land-based radar will pro­vide im­proved cov­er­age over the SBX, which has to be moved back and forth to the vicin­ity of Mid­way Atoll for oper­a­tions.

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