Missile Defense Agency set to deploy new radar technology

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

Lt. Gen. Henry 'Trey' Obering said the agency is reorganizing to address the effects of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission's recommendations. He was speaking at the 8th annual Space and Missile Defense Conference and a follow-up press briefing.

BRAC's recommendations, if accepted, would affect several of the agency's locations in the Washington, D.C., area, and MDA would consolidate many of its functions in the Huntsville area.

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

The reorganization also takes into account the $5 billion over five years that the Defense Department has cut from the agency's budget.

The reduction was 'because of real-world priorities'they were not pejorative cuts,' he said.

One change Obering unveiled is the creation a program executive officer for the agency. He said the new position would allow for better integration across the several development programs under way.

Missile defense has two major components'sensors and missiles'and Obering said the agency has made strides in both areas.

MDA recently completed at-sea testing of its new, 27-story-tall 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 the question of where threats will arise a decade or more in the future points to the need for mobile technology.

This includes developing space-based capabilities, he said.

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

The agency has programs under way to develop interceptors that can take on ballistic missiles in all three phases of flight'boost, midcourse and terminal. Obering projected that MDA will have 28 ground-based midcourse interceptors by 2007.

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