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  • Missing Pieces in Missile Defense

    Sea based X-band Radar It may look like something straight from a science-fiction novel, but this unusual structure is actually part of the United States Government's Ballistic Missile Defence system. The Sea-based X-band Radar, originally built at Vyborg, is an important part of the American defence system. The structure itself is a floating, self-launched, mobile radar station, built to operate in high winds and heavy sea situations. The Goliath-like construction, with a height of 85 metres (279 feet) and a length of 116 metres (381 feet), has its uses - detecting incoming ballistic missiles.

    Is the Obama administration taking North Korea’s threat to launch a long-range missile seriously enough?

    With North Korea poised to launch as early as this weekend, you would think we would have deployed our SBX radar. You’d be wrong.

    The ship-borne Sea-Based X Band Radar (SBX) is one of the best missile tracking radars in the U.S. inventory. It was used most recently in the successful Dec. 5, 2008, missile-defense test. In that test, we directed an interceptor missile from California right into a missile fired from Kodiak Island, Alaska. That test was designed specifically to simulate an attack from North Korea.

    It seems like a no-brainer to deploy the SBX in light of North Korea’s scheduled launch. It cost the taxpayers almost a billion dollars to build this stuff. Why not put it in position to do the job it was built to do?

    But the Pentagon seems to have no intention of deploying this powerful radar—even though there are reports that the most senior military leaders in the Asia-Pacific theater asked to have the radar on station. Instead, when North Korea defies U.N. sanctions and launches its long-range missiles, SBX will be docked at Pearl Harbor. The ship is supposedly undergoing “repairs,” but there are reports that these repairs are not “mission critical” and SBX could have put to sea if it were so ordered.

    North Korea certainly wants us to take their launch seriously. It’s a big part of why they conduct these tests. More importantly, our allies want us to take it seriously. No one wants to see North Korea plunge the region into war. Most importantly, Americans want Washington to take missile defense seriously. They want to go to bed at night knowing they are protected from ballistic missile threats.

    These days, that seems to leave the administration as the odd man out.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to Missing Pieces in Missile Defense

    1. Richard Dutchik Mel says:

      I worked on this vessel, and was part of the test team during the initial Sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico, completed just a few years ago when this photo was taken.

      Sadly; I have seen the SBX anchored at Ford Island more often than not, and could not agree more with our senior military leaders, who according to the article, requested the SBX to be on station over the past weekend to monitor the North Korea tests. One can only wonder who has the power to overrule our most senior military leaders, and why?

    2. Ross, Bradenton, F says:

      Regretfully we have a President who "hasn't a clue" how to properly utilize our military to maximize not only our national security but to protect us from hostile,hell-bent renegade governments, and numerous armed organizations plotting to destroy our very ways of life, our uniquely American culture, plus our christian mores and values.

      Not understanding, thus grossly mismanaging our national military assets has been an overwhelming handicap of ever Democrat president after JFK. History, so far borne out this inherit shortcoming.

    3. Diogenes of New Jers says:

      One reason to keep SBX in port may have to do with another intelligence collection platform that may have been on the scene. The platform of note is Cobra Judy: http://www.fas.org/spp/military/program/nssrm/ini

      Cobra Judy’s mission is to collect highly accurate intelligence information on just such events. With all of the other radar equipped ships (US Navy, Japanese Navy & South Korean Navy) observing the event, an additional high power radar such as SBX could actually have degraded the overall picture.

      If Cobra Judy was there, you can rest assured that we have obtained as much information as possible on this event. There are also numerous sensors at PMRF: (https://www.cnic.navy.mil/barkingsands/index.htm) that would no doubt observe the pieces that made it as far as Hawaii. The chances of any significant debris hitting anything other than ocean are very very small.

      Kyon

    4. louis hoffmeyer sain says:

      ALEXANDER HAMILTON'S federalists papers #65 (the power of the senate) GAVE THE RIGHT TO THE SENATE THE POWER TO IMPEACH THE PRESIDENT FOR THE MISCONDUCT, ABUSE OR VIOLATION OF PUBLIC TRUST WHICH IS INJURIES DONE IMMEDIATELY TO THE SOCIETY ITSELF. I WOULD SAY THE DESTRUCTION OF THE NATIONS MONETARY SYSTEM AND THE SUBSTANTIAL LOSS TO THE PENSION SYSTEM AND HIDING THE FACT THAT WE WAS IN FACT A SOCIALIST WOULD BE GROUNDS TO IMPEACH…

    5. proparanoid says:

      One reason why SBX may be in 'dry dock' is obsolescence and sitting duckiness – replaced by a much more mobile and low-profile solution: Pacific Tracker XTR-1, US Missile Defense Agency Transportable Radar Ship is operational, assembled here in Portland, OR, commissioned April 2009. SBX is more a research platform (literally), but XTR is an outright weapon system.
      Images and details: http://themaritimeblog.com/2204/ss-pacific-tracke

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