15 January 2020
Hawaii’s powerful defensive radar has been delayed
By John Kemp
Daily Gaming World


More than $ 1 billion missile defense radar for Hawaii has been considerably delayed, with Native
Hawaiian cultural issues emerge at a potential location on Kuaokala Ridge in Kaena Point and concern from the community about over-development at two other candidate locations in Kahuku Training Area.

The Missile Defense Agency in June 2018 said that an environmental impact statement for the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii would last up to 1-1 / 2 years, with construction in fiscal 2021 and initial operational capacity in 2023.

But the agency is now saying that a draft study is not expected to be ready for public review and commentary until the fall of 2021, re-examining the start-up date for activities.

In turn, the congress drew $ 101 million in research and development funding from MDA’s request of $ 275 million in 2020 for the advanced missile tracking radar, according to a National Defense Authorization Act conference report.

The delay raises questions about the viability of the project and the rocket defense of Hawaii against North Korean threats when the US Indo-Pacific Command previously said it wanted to follow the advanced radar before considering special state interceptor rockets.

Some indigenous Hawaiians now threaten to protest if the Kuaokala site is selected.

Heather Cavaliere, an MDA spokeswoman, said the agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers “are actively refining planning (s) estimates to work together to shorten the timelines for the field” by identifying ways to build and change work phasing “to deliver an operational site as soon as possible.”

The consultation also continues with Hawaiian groups.

The Hawaii radar is meant to reach out sooner to identify and distinguish warhead parts from rocket parts and decoys amid a proliferation of increasingly sophisticated ballistic missiles.

“The projected missile threat is complex and volatile, and it includes evolving ballistic and hypersonic missile threats,” said MDA Director of Operations Michelle Atkinson during a newsletter in March. “It is crucial that we continue to develop innovative and breakthrough technologies to surpass rogue offensive missiles.”

Congress has said that the Hawaii radar, with a face of 80 to 90 feet in length, is intended to “close gaps in coverage” in the architecture of the Pacific. A powerful radar is being built in Alaska, and the Pentagon has plans for an additional Pacific radar, whose fieldwork has fallen by two years to 2026. Space-based sensors are also being monitored aggressively.

Vice adm Jon Hill director of the MDA, told defensenews.com in August that as ballistic missiles become more complex, “the radar, in the sense of the architecture that we have today, is not ready to enter larger numbers and take on more complexity”, and with a large radar in Hawaii “you can see far.”

“I think we owe it to the Hawaiian people. We owe it to the state, “Hill said, adding that there is federal and state support for the radar. “We are now at the sensitive level where local communities are concerned about what it means to the environment, and we understand that,” he said.

MDA said it was researching 46 locations in Hawaii to come up with three candidate locations: one high on Kuaokala Ridge adjacent to the Kaena Point Air Force satellite tracking station and two locations on the Kahuku training ground of the 9,500-hectare army. Both are confronted with East Asia.

Before it could perform “geotechnical testing” in Kuaokala – drilling up to 100 feet to determine the buildability of the site – an archaeological survey was conducted and officials consulted with 145 indigenous Hawaiian organizations and individuals.

The 160-hectare site is known to have two cultural and historical features:

Mokaena Heiau, with four terraces, the highest of all heiau on Oahu; and “Site 8777”, a possible terrace and rock alignment.

Kaena Point and Kuaokala Ridge are in the hereafter associated with “leina a ka uhane” or “a spring of the mind.”

“Many meeting participants were passionate about their concerns and delivered their comments with great emotion,” commented MDA.

A commentator said that Kuaokala Ridge is a holy place and that “drilling on the ridge is a desecration and akin to drilling at the Arlington (National) cemetery.” MDA said the locations will be protected and avoided.

During a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce in Hawaii last week, Marine Cmdr. Richard “Scott” McGowen, assistant to the MDA director at Indo-Pacific Command, said that “just by going to Kaena Point and finding that one heiau and realizing that maybe there is even a few more up there.” We want to take a step back; we want to look – OK, what else is here that we don’t want to interrupt? “

The MDA Cavaliere said that cultural sources and impact studies are being conducted or being completed for the radar sites proposed by Kahuku Training Area.

As a member of the Honolulu City Council that represents both areas, Heidi Tsuneyoshi said she “is troubled by the negative consequences that these peaceful, rural communities can have” with the radar.

“Residents of Kahuku continue to bear the burden of wind turbines being built right next to their homes and schools,” Tsuneyoshi said in an email.

“I am deeply concerned about the difficulty of putting together these projects in the vicinity of the small rural community of Kahuku and as such I agree and support the opposition of the community to the construction of the radar in Kahuku,” said she.

She added that her concern about Kaena Point as a potential location is that the area has always been considered a sacred place with historically and culturally important areas.

Tsuneyoshi advised considering military sites that are not accessible to the general public – including Mount Kaala above the Schofield Barracks “where another radar already exists and which is coming to the end of its useful life.”

Riki Ellison, president of the non-profit Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, said the radar could end up at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, one of the farthest western islands in the immediate island chain, and where other radars are located.

“I believe we can find a win-win situation, but more discussions are needed and more options will be considered before we continue,” Tsuneyoshi said.

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