Alaska missile defense radar nears completion after pandemic construction delays
Artist’s impression of the long-range discrimination radar currently being tested at Clear Air Force Station, Alaska. (Missile Defense Agency)
After months of construction delays last year due to coronavirus restrictions, a long-range missile defense radar system in Alaska is largely complete and will begin initial operations at the end of this year, announced on Wednesday. the Missile Defense Agency.
All “major production activities” on the Clear Air Force station’s long-range discrimination radar have been completed, the agency said in a press release. The resort is approximately 90 miles southwest of Fairbanks in central Alaska.
Initial commissioning was originally scheduled for 2020, but measures taken to reduce the possible spread of the coronavirus have delayed construction.
Work was halted in March when access to the Air Force station was restricted to essential personnel, the statement said. A small team remained to monitor alarms and monitor critical heating and cooling systems, with construction resuming in May.
“Despite the challenges, the Alaska Corps of Engineers, the State of Alaska, the Missile Defense Agency and the many contractors involved in building the LRDR worked together to achieve [initial operational capability] by the end of this calendar year, ”the Missile Defense Agency said.
The Government Accountability Office said in a July report that the system is expected to be transferred to the Air Force at the end of the fiscal year which begins in October 2022.
The long-range discrimination radar system – whose massive arrays measure 60 feet by 60 feet – will be able to track incoming missiles while distinguishing deadly warheads from decoys or other non-lethal objects. This will increase the nation’s defensive capacity by reducing the number of “interceptors” potentially needed to destroy incoming objects, the statement said.
“Once operational, [the Long Range Discrimination Radar] will provide an unmatched ability to simultaneously search, track and discriminate multiple small baseball-sized objects, including all classes of ballistic and hypersonic missiles, at very long ranges, 24/7 , 365 days a year, ”the Missile Defense Agency said.
Manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the radar is part of the Mid-Term Land Defense System, intended to protect the United States from intercontinental ballistic missiles from around the world.
US military officials view North Korea as the greatest missile threat in the Indo-Pacific region. The outcast nation has worked steadily over the past decade to perfect ballistic missiles capable of hitting the United States.