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$1 billion radar system to detect missiles planned for Oahu

The Associated Press
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AP Photo/Caleb Jones
A man watches the ocean near Waimea Bay near Haleiwa on Oahu's North Shore.

HONOLULU — The U.S. Missile Defense Agency is planning to build a $1 billion radar system on the far western or northern point of Oahu.

Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii is expected to track advance ballistic and hypersonic missile threats across the western Pacific from either Kaena Point or the Kahuku Training Area, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported .

The agency is conducting an environmental impact statement and held a public meeting on the project last week in Haleiwa.

The radar will identify, track and classify long-range missile threats in the midcourse of flight. The radar will have a block-like shape with a face estimated to be up to 80 feet tall and up to 50 feet wide, said Rear Adm. Jon Hill, deputy director of the agency.

Maintenance and support facilities are also planned for the site covering 160 acres. The system will also have communications equipment to transfer data to a missile defense control system for 44 interceptor missiles located in Alaska and California.

Despite the recent summit with North Korea, the threat of missiles from any power won’t end, Hill said. Hawaii will continue to be a militarily strategic location, he said.

“We know that Hawaii is adequately defended today due to the ground-based missile defense program,” Hill said, “but with this radar we will be able to take on the advanced threat.”

The environmental analysis could take up to 18 months to complete, officials said. Construction on the project is expected to begin in 2021. The site could be operational by late 2023.

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