Pentagon picks
Alaska over Hawaii
for new defense system

A location off Kalaeloa on Oahu
was among six places considered for
the radar platform

The Pentagon has selected Adak, Alaska, over Hawaii as the preferred location for the Missile Defense Agency's $900 million Sea-Based X-Brand radar system, a spokesman said yesterday.

A site off Kalaeloa in West Oahu was among six locations around the Pacific being considered for the 25-story-tall radar dome and platform as part of the nation's ballistic missile defense system.

The agency felt Adak was more operationally and geographically suited for the radar system, MDA Director of Communications Rick Lehner said in a telephone interview.

Its far-north and west location puts it in the best position to help guide the intercept missiles to their targets, he said.

The radar platform and recent tests at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai are part of plans outlined in December by the Bush administration to have a rudimentary missile defense system ready for use by 2005.

Other sites considered besides Adak and Hawaii were Valdez in Alaska, Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, Port Hueneme in California and the naval station at Everett, Wash.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., said he was glad Everett was rejected.

"This decision is great news for Everett and for Snohomish and Island Counties. I think we're all breathing a sigh of relief today," Larsen said in a statement.

"Our local communities made it clear that they did not want SBX in their back yard," Larsen said. "As their representative, I urged Missile Defense Agency officials to seriously consider the communities' health and economic concerns surrounding SBX. I am very pleased to learn that they did so."

The Everett City Council voted unanimously in April to ask the military to base it elsewhere, saying it would be an eyesore.

In its environmental impact statement on the Hawaii location, the agency said the radar platform would impose only a minor visual impact "comparable to ships passing along the horizon."

The prospect of having the platform moored a few miles off West Oahu generated little public comment one way or the other.

Under the plan, 20 Standard Missile-3 interceptors would be placed aboard three Navy ships with improved versions of the Aegis system that uses radar to detect and track hostile missiles and cue on-board weapons to intercept them.

This sea-based system was outlawed under the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, but President Bush gained the flexibility of testing it when the United States withdrew from the treaty last summer.

The plan also calls for the development of ground-based missile interceptors.

The testing program comes at a time when North Korea, which has a ballistic missile program, claims that it has produced enough plutonium for about a half-dozen nuclear bombs.

North Korea's missile development program includes the Taepodong-2, a two-stage rocket that some analysts believe could reach Alaska or Hawaii.


E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --