DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Missile Defense Agency's Sea-Based X-Band Radar, a 28-story structure that resembles a giant golf ball sitting atop a platform, has returned to Pearl Harbor for three weeks of maintenance. As seen yesterday from Neal Blaisdell Park in Pearl City, a plane approaching Honolulu Airport appeared to be attached to the radar's platform.
The 28-story Sea-Based X-Band Radar returns to the islands for three weeks of maintenance
A frequent island visitor -- the 28-story, Sea-Based X-Band Radar -- is back in the islands for three weeks of maintenance work on its crane.
SEA-BASED X-BAND RADAR
The high-tech facility is a combination of an advanced X-band radar and an oceangoing submersible platform:
Cost: $900 million
Craft: Twin-hulled and self-propelled
Crew: 75 to 80
Length: 398 feet
Width: 240 feet
Height: 282 feet from keel to top of radar dome
Range: Classified (but it is said to be able to detect an object the size of a baseball a continent away)
Source: Missile Defense Agency
The floating platform, which holds two large radar domes resembling giant golf balls, docked at Pearl Harbor's Bravo Pier on Wednesday, a Navy spokesman said.
In September a target missile was successfully tracked by the Sea-Based X-Band Radar and the Pearl Harbor-based destroyer USS Russell. The target missile was launched from Kodiak, Alaska. The ground-based interceptor missile was fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Los Angeles 17 minutes after the target missile was launched.
During that missile intercept the radar, with its domed radar housing, was located in the northern Pacific between Alaska and California. The Navy declined to pinpoint the floating platform's location. The fifth-generation, twin-hulled platform is self-propelled.
That test marked the sixth successful downing of a target in 10 tries since 1999 as part of the Missile Defense Agency's $43 billion program.
In January 2007 the sea-based radar left Hawaii for its home port of Adak, Alaska, at the end of the Aleutian Chain.
It returned again in July, and reporters were give a rare glimpse into the radar domes that house the radar. A Missile Defense Agency official said the floating radar system can pinpoint a pingpong ball 3,000 miles away and 250 miles above sea level.
The radar plays a critical role in U.S. missile defense, tracking and identifying incoming missiles and warheads and relaying the information to interceptor bases in Alaska and California.
The $27 million worth of modifications, which were done in July by Boeing Co., included:
» Installing eight mooring and anchoring systems.
» Adding a second crane on the port side of the platform.
» Increasing its ability to launch rescue boats.
» Upgrading its fuel system.