Military presents missile defense plans for Alaska

Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2003

ANCHORAGE - The Defense Department's Missile Defense Agency wants to increase testing around the Pacific basin, including expanding the state's Kodiak Launch Complex.

The plans, presented Tuesday at a hearing in Anchorage, include expansion of the Kodiak facility so two interceptors could be fired simultaneously at targets launched thousands of miles away.

The plans are part of the growing test bed for the ground-based anti-missile system under construction in Fort Greely and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Interceptor missiles - the "bullets" designed to destroy incoming warheads while they are still arcing through space - can only be launched from the government's test facility in Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Proposed multilaunch facilities at Kodiak and Vandenberg would allow increasingly "robust testing in scenarios that are as operationally realistic as possible," Col. Kevin Norgaard, the Army's director of missile defense site activation in Alaska, said at the Anchorage meeting.

But despite a noisy demonstration that drew about 50 protesters outside the Egan Convention Center prior to the meeting, only three people took advantage of the public hearing to voice their concerns.

The hearing was called for public comment on a draft environmental impact statement issued by the government for the expanded test bed. In addition to the new roles for Kodiak and Vandenberg, officials are looking for a home port for a new high-power sea-based radar that would be built on an oil platform and towed around the Pacific during tests. Valdez and Adak are among six potential Pacific ports for the vessel and its 50-person crew.

Norgaard said even if construction of silos at Kodiak is approved, there is no money to build them. Money was redirected to deploy missiles at Fort Greely based under a directive issued in December by President Bush to have an operational system by October 2004.



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