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Space

"Starwars"-radar move to Vardo

Inge Sellevåg
Bergens Tidende 4 Apr 1998

An American radar to be deployed in Vardo, Norway close to the Russian border has been used in tests of the planned US National Missile Defense, the follow-up to the Star Wars program, the Norwegian newspaper Bergens Tidende reported Saturday April 4.

The Norwegian Defense High Command a week earlier (March 24) issued a press release saying that Norway is establishing a new radar called GLOBUS II in Vardo. The work on the site is staring now in April and the radar is to be operational by the year 2000. It is a cooperation between Norway and US, represented by the Norwegian military intelligence agency and US Air Force Space Command. An important objective is to monitor objects in space, both active satellites and space junk.

The Vardo radar actually is called HAVE STARE and current is located at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Tom Rykken, the manager of the Globus II project, confirms this to Bergens Tidende. He also confirms that HAVE STARE during its time at Vandenberg has participated in test program for National Missile Defense (NMD). According to program documents HAVE STARE if needed can support NMD.

"The tests at Vandenberg has a completely different application than the function the radar will have in Norway. The national missile defense is an American effort and does not include Norwegian areas. The radar will have no such function in Norway". Rykken said. Surprised

"I am surprised that HAVE STARE is to be deployed in Norway. Since the radar is mentioned in NMD plans I anticipated that it would go to Misawa, Japan. there it would be useful for getting a close look at North Korean ICBMs launched towards US, one of the fears motivating the missile defense program", said John Pike, director of the Space Policy Project of the "Federation of American Scientists" (FAS) and one of the leading US experts on military space programs.

The American Congress in 1991 according to Pike transferred HAVE STARE from the intelligence budget to Air Force. The Air Force identified a requirement for the radar system and in 1995 a succesful system test was completed at Vandenberg. The same year AFSPC selected a classified overseas location for the system. The location was revealed when Norwegian defense released information about the new radar in Vardo.

"Cover Story"

"The Norwegian description of the radar project is a thin cover story which only creates the impression that Norway has something to hide. I have no doubt that they will be doing debris tracking, but there is no way HAVE STARE would be moving to Norway if debris tracking were its only or even its primary function".

In addition to tracking objects in space the radar probably can observe Russian SLBM launches from the Barents Sea and perhaps launches from Plesetsk. But the current theory according to Pike is that the deployment to Norway is to do measurements of the aurora.

"US Air Force and missile defense communities believe the aurora provides a simulation of an environment disturbed by a high altitude nuclear explosion. The military planners fear that such an explosion might precede a missile attack. To use the radar in auroral measurements test objects will have to be released from sounding rockets or satellites", Pike said.

Scientitic logic

"The history of the HAVE STARE project and the scientific logic of putting it in Norway say that more is going on than simple space objects surveillance and that it's probably connected with NMD mid-course discrimination", Allen Thomson, another well informed American defense commentator, said.

"Some NMD mid-course discriminaton radars would have to look through the auroral zone. The aurora affects RF propagation and it would be prudent to have a good understanding of those effect on a highly sensitive X-band radar like HAVE STARE before building an operational system. Norway is a good site for these studies and the timing isn't bad either as the present solar cycle is on the rise, bringing with it increased auroral activity", Thomson said.

"Note that all three explanations proposed for Globus II are compatible with each other, he added : "The radar could get a lot of NMD-applicable auroral data while conducting debris surveys and also take a look at occasional Russian missile launches".

Full Norwegian control

"The purpose of the Globus II project is as we have described in our press release. The project has gone through a national decision process which builds on this description. Globus II will enhance the ability of the Norwegian military intelligence to monitor its geographical area of interests and the main function of the radar is to monitor objects in space. HAVE STARE is coming to Norway on these conditions and is subjected to full Norwegian national control from day one", project manager Tom Rykken said.

BT : Why do you call the radar Globus II when its real name is HAVE STARE ?

TR : Globus is a name we have used for radars in Vardo for a long time. What the radar is called elsewhere in the world is of no interest to us. It moves to Norway and we mean that Norway is entitled to call the radar whatever we like. We are a sovereign nation and we are not obliged to adopt an American name.

BT : The book "Top Secret", the authorized history of Norwegian military intelligence, says that the Globus-station in Vardo up to 1970, where the book ends, was part of a project to monitor Russian SLBM launches. Is that also the purpose of Globus II ?

TR : I have no comment.

BT : Is Globus II a continuation of Globus I ?

TR : It is not correct to use the expression "continuation". However, we are doing an update technologically speaking. The fact that we use the name Globus does not mean that different radars by this name has anything to do with each other.

BT : Can the new radar do auroral measurements ?

TR : That is not within the use areas we have envisioned. However, the Norwegian Defense and Research Establishment (FFI) is running a parallell project to make sure the radar is applied un such a way in Norway that we get the best out of it.

BT : Why did you tell in the press release that the radar is American ?

TR : This is no big revelation. In an article in the Norwegian defense magazine we wrote that the radar presently is located at Vandenberg. That is all there is to say. To us it is a Norwegian project.

BT : It could be said that you now have created unnecessary speculations about the purpose of the radar.

TR : I have no comment. But I have no doubt that the issue will raise a discussion. We have no objection to that. We have nothing to hide, Rykken said.

Copyright © 1998 Bergens Tidende




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