Missile Defense Agency to outline Juneau plans

Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The federal Missile Defense Agency will hold a public meeting on Thursday to further explain Juneau's role in upcoming missile interception tests over the Pacific Ocean.

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The meeting, which is being billed as an informational meeting but not a public hearing, will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the National Guard Armory, which is jointly located at the University of Alaska recreation center, at 12300 Mendenhall Loop Road. The armory is across from the turnoff to the university.

The agency is planning to base a powerful radar system in Juneau for use in tracking a missile fired from Kodiak, while an attempt is made to intercept it with a missile fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The radar will be based temporarily at the Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at Lena Point.

The presentation will start with a video of a KTUU-TV story about the plan and a PowerPoint presentation, said Ralph Scott, agency spokesman.

Col. Thom Besch, the agency's Alaska regional director, will conduct the meeting, and some technical staff will be available to answer questions as well, Scott said.

"This is for us to pass information to the public, and is not a formal hearing," Scott said.

A similar meeting was held at the institute earlier. Scott said that meeting addressed some neighborhood-specific issues, such as noise from generators and glare from lights.

Other concerns have been raised about the effects of the powerful radar.

Besch said the exact power of the radar is classified information, but aircraft will be warned not to fly into its path.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. and is expected to last one hour.

The trailer-size radar equipment is expected to arrive in October and November, and the nighttime tests will take place next year, Besch said.

• Contact Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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