Missile Defense Agency to install new radar technology

HUNTSVILLE, Ala.'Despite budget cuts and military base realignments, the director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said his organization is making progress in developing technology to intercept in-flight ballistic missiles directed against the United States.

Speaking at the eighth annual Space and Missile Defense Conference and a follow-up press briefing, Lt. Gen. Henry 'Trey' Obering said that the agency is reorganizing to address the effects of the Base Realignment Commission's recommendations.

If the recommendations are accepted as proposed, several of the agency's locations in the Washington area will be affected and MDA will consolidate many of its functions in the Huntsville area.

'More than 2,000 people would relocate to Huntsville,' Obering said.

MDA recently completed at-sea testing of its new, 27-story, sea-based X-band radar in the Gulf of Mexico. In October, the radar will be deployed to Adak, Alaska, he said.

'Put it in the Chesapeake Bay and you can identify a softball-sized object over San Francisco,' Obering said of the radar's capabilities.

The agency also is modifying radar installations in the United Kingdom and Iceland.

'We believe this architecture will take care of North Korean and Iranian threats,' he said, but added that the question of where threats will arise a decade or more into the future points to the need for mobile technology.

'A Chinese general said a couple of weeks ago that [in the future] there will not be such a thing as a limited regional war,' Obering said. 'We have to move away from reliance on fixed-site interceptors and sensors.

'I think we're going to need space-based interceptors' beyond 2015, the general said, 'but there's a lot of religious feelings about that. We need to start the debate.'

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