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Sea-Based X-band (SBX) Radar Program Developments

The SBX was initially due to become operational on or about December 2005.

The final major step in the SBX assembly took place 15 May 2005 when the radome for the X-band radar was installed at Kiewit. The radome provides protection for the radar, which was installed on its ocean-going platform in April. That operation lasted approximately 17 hours and was performed by a combined Boeing, Raytheon, Vertex/RSI and Kiewit team. SBX stands more than 280 feet tall and displaces more than 50,000 tons.

Early on October 12, 2005, the radar aboard SBX successfully tracked several orbiting satellites over a 3-hour period. The radar acquired each object and maintained tracks for several minutes, demonstrating this key functionality for the first time. Achieving this milestone demonstrates the radar software is able to control thousands of individual transmit and receive modules.

On October 14, SBX returned from a successful 52-day deployment in the Gulf of Mexico. While in the Gulf, SBX completed more than 100 major test activities, demonstrating the ability to achieve most major sustainment and operational capabilities including transferring personnel, supplies, and fuel; maintenance atsea; and the ability to operate at sea for extended periods.

On 14 November 2005 the Sea Based X-Band Radar (SBX) was successfully loaded tonto the heavy lift vessel, mv Blue Marlin. The SBX was moved into position alongside the Blue Marlin and secured during a roughly two hour operation.

On 10 January 2006 the Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX) arrived in Hawaii after its 15,000 mile trip from Texas. The SBX made the trip from Corpus Christi, Texas aboard the MV Blue Marlin, a semi-submersible heavy lift vessel. Although the SBX is self-propelled, it rode aboard the Blue Marlin in order to save time on the trip and to avoid wear and tear on the vessel. Later this week the SBX will be offloaded from the heavy lift vessel and will begin minor modifications, post-transit maintenance and routine inspections before completing its voyage to its home port of Adak, Alaska. Offloading and berthing operations were expected to take several days and during that time a safety perimeter will be maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.

In March 2006, alarms went off in SBX's engine room when a leaky valve caused water to flood into SBX's pontoon. The rig returned to Pearl Harbor for repairs to the problem, which an independent panel later called a "major casualty." In June 2006, an electrical fault tripped circuit breakers, forcing SBX back into port for two more weeks of repairs. An independent Pentagon panel concluded in June 2006 that while SBX "is an inherently rugged and suitable platform," the vessel needed 47 modifications before it entered service. The MDA diverted SBX from its tests to enable it to monitor North Korea's missile launch in July 2006. Then SBX's preparations for Alaska were delayed again so the radar could participate in a test on 01 September 2006.

The SBX departed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 03 January 2007 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. SBX successfully traveled from Hawaii to the waters of the Aleutian Island chain of Alaska by 7 February 2007. Since departing Pearl Harbor in January, the SBX successfully demonstrated its ability to operate in the harsh winter weather conditions of the Northern Pacific and participated in two tests of the Ballistic Missile Defense System.

In June 2007 it was announced that the giant 28-story Sea Based X-Band Radar (SBX) will return to Pearl Harbor for scheduled maintenance and planned system upgrades later this month. The world's largest phased-array x-band radar, carried aboard a self-propelled semi-submersible oil platform, could be at Pearl Harbor Shipyard for several months, in order to complete the maintenance and system upgrades. During this time, it may go back to sea, to participate in another test of the Ground Based Midcourse Defense Program, then return to Pearl Harbor again for completion of the scheduled work.

The mooring system, a key piece of infrastructure for the radar, was installed in September 2007 at the SBX's homeport in Adak, Alaska. Manson Construction, a subcontractor to Boeing, completed the installation three weeks ahead of schedule. The mooring system will ensure the SBX is safely secured to the ocean seabed while at its homeport in Kuluk Bay. The mooring system consists of eight 75-metric ton anchors attached to the sea floor, providing maximum safety for the vessel in the sometimes harsh Aleutian Island weather.

The SBX will operate from various locations in the Pacific Ocean in FY08 continuing its integration into the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) through support of system flight and ground tests. Additionally, the SBX is scheduled to spend time at the Pearl Harbor shipyard to implement enhancements to the SBX vessel that resulted from recommendations of an Operational Viability Assessment (OVA) panel. Security surrounding the SBX is a vital part of the operations of the SBX.

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