HONOLULU – The U.S. military wants to install missile defense radar in Hawaii for the identification of ballistic missiles that are fired from North Korea or elsewhere, officials said Tuesday.
The $1 billion system could spot nuclear warheads on missiles on way to Hawaii and other AMERICAN states, and provide that information to the ground-based interceptors in Alaska designed to shoot them down. It would be able to distinguish warheads from decoys that are designed to trick missile defense systems.
The radar would help with the Alaska missile “better eyes,” said Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii and a supporter of the project.
So far, lawmakers have appropriated $61 million for the plans, but no money for the construction. Schatz, who is on the defense subcommittee of the Senate appropriations Committee, said that he was not much doubt about the likelihood of further funding.
The radar would be approximately 30 to 50 feet (9 to 15 meters wide and 60 feet to 80 feet (18 to 24 meters) high, according to the Missile Defense Agency.
It will likely be a flat-face surface as in Shemya, Alaska, in place of a ball-like appearance of other military radar. Experts say that the bigger the face, the more precisely it will be able to distinguish between warheads and decoys.
The agency is studying two possible locations for the radar, both on Oahu’s North Shore. The collection of public comment by July 16.
Schatz said lawmakers discussed that the radar with the previous commander of the AMERICAN forces in the Pacific, Adm. Harry Harris, who recently retired and has been nominated for the ambassador of the USA to South Korea.
“We now have all the powerful functionality, however, to work with Admiral Harris, we wanted to double down and make sure we have the most powerful combination of missile interceptors and radar systems everywhere,” Schatz said in a telephone interview.
The radar would help in the identification of long-range ballistic missile threats mid-flight.
David Santoro, a managing director and senior fellow for nuclear policy of the Pacific Forum think tank in Honolulu, said threats from North Korea, as Pyongyang has developed more advanced missiles and nuclear weapons.
“In the past weeks, we have seen that a so-called peace initiative develop, but the reality is the threat is still there. It’s not going away,” Santoro said. The U.S. would be expected for the construction of a radar system against the threats, he said.
The AMERICAN concerns about the threat of North Korean missiles, spiked last year when North Korea test-fired long-range rocket over Japan, and threatened the launch of a ballistic missile in the direction of the Guam, a major US military hub in the Pacific ocean. President Donald Trump warned the U.S. military was “locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely” and that the US would unleash “fire and fury” on the North as it remained a threat to America.
But then Trump, and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un, met in Singapore earlier this month, and a statement agreeing to “work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.”
The state does not define a process, say when it would begin or say how long it would take.
Information: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com