Missile Defense: Hawaii Five-O
by Riki Ellison, President Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance
A stellar Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) test last week gave proof of concept for the initial protection of Europe under President Obama's plan and enhanced the currently deployed U.S. missile defense capabilities across the globe. This success provides strong momentum to ensuring support from Congress and the President to move forward with and adequately fund the initial phases of the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA). Deficiencies remain in projected funding of the testing, development and deployment of these initial phases.
One of the key elements to capture the momentum from this missile defense game changer is the State of Hawaii and the Department of Defense's five missile defense assets located there:
1. Pearl Harbor, Hawaii is the home port for six U.S. Navy Aegis (BMD) ships, all equipped with Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IA missiles. These ships are under Pacific Fleet command and sail with the 7th Fleet in the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Japan off of North Korea and the 5th Fleet in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf off of Iran.
2. Fort Shafter, Hawaii is home to the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command (94th AAMDC) that commands all of the Army's missile defense assets in the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) area of operations, in coordination with Admiral Robert Willard, Commander, PACOM. These assets include the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Batteries based in South Korea and Japan, the forward-based AN/TPY-2 radar operating in Japan and the command and control at the Air and Space Operations Center (AOC) in Pearl Harbor-Hickam Air Field in Honolulu. The 94th AAMDC oversaw the AN/TPY-2 radar at Wake Island and the battle management of its information to and from Colorado Springs during this recent test.
3. The U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) expands over millions of square miles of land/sea and its base of operations is located in Barking Sands, Kauai. This invaluable facility provides safe testing and telemetry information for the development of the Aegis BMD system, SM-3 missiles, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system and the coordination between Patriot, AN/SPY-1 and AN/TPY-2 missile defense radars. PMRF also hosts foreign countries that are missile defense Allies with the United States; most notably Japan, which over the past three years has tested all of its Kongo class destroyers outfitted with Aegis BMD systems and SM-3 Block IA missiles at PMRF.
4. Hawaii has been home to the Sea-based X-band Radar (SBX) at Pearl Harbor. The SBX is the primary fire control sensor for the defense of the U.S. homeland, including Hawaii and Alaska. The SBX was deployed to sea in 2009 to defend the United States during the North Korean long-range missile test. This highly functional radar has been involved with the testing of the Ground-Based Interceptors (GBI) as well as last week's test. The SBX is scheduled to come under U.S. Navy command at the end of 2011.
5. Hawaii will be home to the new Aegis Ashore missile defense system that will be deployed in Romania (2015) and Poland (2018). This system will test and develop the SM-3 Block IB missiles with the advanced Aegis processors at PMRF. The Aegis Ashore at PMRF has the potential to not only be a testing facility but also have the dual operational capability of protecting Hawaii. Ground breaking is expected to take place this summer, with the system completed and operating by 2013.
Missile defense is important to the economic strength of Hawaii in these challenging economic times. The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, where the six Aegis BMD ships are home ported, is the number one job creating industry in Hawaii. Defense spending is the number two revenue generator for Hawaii behind tourism. A single Aegis BMD Destroyer brings $32.6 million into the Hawaiian economy annually and a single Aegis BMD Cruiser brings in $48 million. Moreover, PMRF is the number one high tech and third highest overall source of jobs on the island of Kauai. PMRF provides $135 million a year annually to the economy of Kauai and each missile defense test held there brings in approximately $2-3 million extra. The new Aegis Ashore missile defense system will bring additional jobs and revenue into Kauai and Hawaii.
MDAA had the honor to address a joint session on missile defense with the Hawaiian State Senate Public Safety, Government & Military Affairs committee and House of Representatives Public Safety & Military Affairs committee in Honolulu.
Riki Ellison is Founder and President of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA), whose mission is to help make the world safer by encouraging the development of a missile defense system that would protect against ballistic missiles of all ranges.