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calendar   Monday - June 22, 2009

Getting Ready For The 4th of July

US beefs up Hawaiian missile defense




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MV Blue Marlin brings a Sea Based X-Band radar system (SBX) into Honolulu.



U.S. beefs up Hawaii’s missile defence amid warnings North Korea could fire rocket towards Pacific islands

A new anti-missile system ordered for Hawaii is partly a strategy to deter North Korea from test-firing a long-range missile across the Pacific and partly a precaution against the unpredictable regime, military officials have said.

The United States has no indication that North Korean missile technology has improved markedly since past failed launches.

Military and other assessments suggest the communist nation probably could not hit the westernmost US state if it tried, officials said.

The North’s Taepodong-2 could travel that far in theory, if it works as designed. But three test launches have either failed or do not demonstrate anything close to that range.

Nonetheless, past failure should not be considered a predictor, one military official said, and the seaborne radar and land-based interceptors were added this week as a prudent backstop.

A senior defence official would not discuss details of range estimates for North Koreans missiles, but said the same principle of caution for Hawaii would apply if the North appeared to threaten US territories in the Pacific.




Great idea. I hope they brought in quite a number of high altitude interceptor missiles as well.

Did you know we had SBX? I didn’t. And the thing has been around for years. SBX is a self-propelled seaworthy radar system, built on a semi-submersible Russian oil platform. It cost $900 million to build, and usually lives in Anchorage Alaska. However it can sail to anywhere in the Pacific, although when time is of the essence a ship carrier like the MV Blue Marlin (the same one that brought home the injured USS Cole from Yemen) can transport it much faster.

Sea-Based X-band (SBX) Radar is the tracking and discrimination radar used for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system. SBX will consist of a large X-Band half-populated radar mounted on a modified fifth-generation semi-submersible platform with Battle Management Command Control and Communications, which includes In-flight Interceptor Communication System Data Terminals and associated communications; power generation; facility floor space; and infrastructure, similar to a fixed radar installation.

The SBX provides detailed ballistic missile tracking information to the GMD system, as well as advanced target and countermeasures discrimination capability for the GMD interceptor missiles. The ability of the SBX to deploy to operating locations under its own power allows it to support actual GMD operations as well as realistic testing.

The SBX vessel, a self-propelled semi-submersible modified oil-drilling platform, was modified and payloads installed at shipyards in Brownsville and Corpus Christi, Texas. The initial sea trials took place in the Gulf of Mexico to ensure maneuverability and control of the vessel. In addition, the sea trials may include full power operation for satellite and calibration device tracking. Following the sea trials, the completed platform would transit from the Gulf of Mexico to its primary support base at Adak, Alaska. SBX performs tracking, iscrimination, and assessment of target missiles in support of missile defense tests, as well as, operation of the GMD system.

The platform is approximately 390 feet long, with a 238-foot beam, and an operations draft of approximately 75 feet. The height from water surface to the top of the radar dome is 250 feet. The deck area will be approximately 270 x 230 feet. The SBX has a displacement of 50,000 tons, and a hull weight is about 15,000 tons.

The radar antenna itself is described as being 384 square meters. It has a large number of solid-state transmit-receive modules mounted on a hexagonal flat base which can move plus-or-minus 270 degrees in azimuth and 0 to 85 degrees elevation (although software currently limits the maximum physical elevation to 80 degrees). The maximum azimuth and elevation velocities are approximately 5-8 degrees per second. In addition to the physical motion of the base, the beam can be electronically steered off bore-sight (details classified).

There are currently 22,000 modules installed on the base. Each module has one transmit-receive feed horn and one auxiliary receive feed horn for a second polarization, so there are 44,000 feedhorns. The base is roughly 2/3 populated and so there is room for installation of additional modules. The current modules are concentrated towards the center, so as to minimize grating lobes. This configuration allows it to support the very-long-range target discrimination and tracking that GMD’s midcourse segment requires. The array requires over a megawatt of power.

The radar is described by Lt. Gen Trey Obering (director of MDA) as being able to track an object the size of a baseball over San Francisco in California from the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, approximately 2,900 miles (4,700 km). The radar will guide land-based missiles from Alaska and California, as well as in-theatre assets.

The SBX is compliant with existing national and state environmental regulations and laws and will pose no threat to people or wildlife in Hawaii. It has completed many major milestones in its development, the two most recent being tracking satellites and completing sea trials. Early on Oct. 12, 2005, the radar aboard the SBX successfully tracked several orbiting satellites over a three-hour period. The radar acquired each object and maintained tracks for several minutes, demonstrating this key functionality for the first time. Achieving this milestone demonstrates the radar software is able to control thousands of individual transmit and receive modules.

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That’s some amazing technology. Wi-fi the thing in to several Aegis ships, a couple land batteries, and a few missile barges ( surely we have some of them, yes? Mate up another booster stage to some of those old Sprint missiles to give them an extra 20 miles of loft and mount the works on something the size of an oil tanker. Say, about 200 per ship. That seems right. ), and we should be able to knock out ‘Lil Kim’s Limpi-Dong missile as soon as we know it’s headed our way ... and with the super computers we’ve got these days, that should be figured out when the thing is about 12 feet above it’s launch pad. Ah, if only we had Frank J’s space laser.

PS - yes I cropped the first pic, an AP photo, and didn’t give them credit. Why should I, when they stole it from the Navy and then put their logo on it? Proper photo credit goes to Journalist 2nd Class Ryan C. McGinley, who snapped the shot back in January 2006.

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/22/2009 at 11:05 AM   
Filed Under: • MilitaryNorth-Korea •  
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