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New Sea-Based Missile Defense Radar Completes Successful Journey to Alaska

7 February 2007

Lt. General Henry “Trey” Obering, Missile Defense Agency director, announced today that the Sea-based Xband Radar (SBX) has successfully traveled from Hawaii to the waters of the Aleutian Island chain of Alaska.

The SBX departed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Jan. 3, and conducted numerous sea trials and exercises while en route to Alaska, and also continued the calibration of the X-band radar mounted on top of the ocean-going platform. The largest radar of its type, the SBX is designed to track and discriminate small objects in space, which makes it especially effective for missile defense since it can provide very accurate information to the missile defense command and control system to help direct ground and sea-based interceptor missiles to a point in space where they can be placed in a position to collide directly with an in-coming missile warhead for a “hit to kill” intercept, while ignoring decoys and countermeasures.

As a testament to its durability and overall seaworthiness, the SBX successfully navigated several winter storms in the northern Pacific Ocean, encountering waves of more than 50 feet high and wind gusts of more than 100 miles per hour. The SBX’s platform was originally designed to support oil drilling equipment in the harsh environment of the North Sea, with its high waves, strong winds and freezing temperatures. Contrary to some published reports, this was the first time the SBX left Hawaii to make the journey north to Alaska. Previous departures from Hawaii over the past several months were to conduct sea trials, radar calibration and to support missile defense tests, not to transit to Alaska.

The SBX is 240 feet wide and 390 feet long. It stands 280 feet high from its keel to the top of the radar’s protective dome, and weighs almost 50,000 tons. The SBX will be home-ported at the Aleutian Island of Adak starting late this summer after its mooring facilities have completed construction. The ocean-spanning mobility of the SBX allows the radar to be repositioned as needed to support both actual operations to defend the Unites States, its deployed forces, allies and friends against a ballistic missile attack, and is also used to support operationally realistic missile defense flight tests.

News media point of contact is Rick Lehner, Missile Defense Agency, at (703) 697-8997 or richard.lehner@mda.mil

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