Sea-based radar passes test

Boeing, working with industry team mates and the US Missile Defense Agency, has successfully completed a Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system test using a new sea-based sensor.

During the test, the mobile Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX), positioned in the north-central Pacific Ocean, demonstrated its capability by detecting, tracking and assessing a long-range ballistic missile target launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

As part of the GMD system, SBX provided that target information via satellite to GMD’s Colorado-based fire control system, which used the data to simulate a target strike with a simulated ground-based interceptor.

‘Last night’s successful test verified that the Sea-Based X-Band Radar can detect, track and provide precise trajectory information to help defend against a long-range ballistic missile attack,’ said Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager, Boeing Missile Defense Systems. ‘The test builds on the momentum of the GMD program, which conducted two successful flight tests last year. SBX will perform essential sensing functions for the GMD system, which defends the United States against long-range ballistic missiles. SBX can be deployed worldwide; it can detect small objects thousands of miles away; it can provide critical data on incoming ballistic missile threats; and it is the only sensor platform of its type in the world.’

SBX, which consists of a radar on top of a modified semi-submersible oil-drilling platform, arrived in Alaskan waters in February for the first time after completing a self-propelled, 2,200-nautical-mile journey from Hawaii.

During its voyage, the platform is said to have displayed its durability by successfully navigating severe winter storms in the northern Pacific Ocean, including waves more than 50 feet high and wind gusts of more than 100 miles an hour. The radar system, which will be based in Adak, Alaska, a small island in the Aleutian Island chain, is able to move throughout the Pacific Ocean, or any of the world’s oceans, to support advanced missile defence testing and defensive operations.

While in Hawaii, SBX completed its radar calibration, received upgrades, tracked a target missile during a missile defence flight test and went on alert during last year’s North Korean missile launches. SBX arrived in Hawaii in January 2006 aboard a commercial heavy transport vessel after completing a 15,000-mile journey from Texas, where it was built.

Boeing is the prime contractor for GMD, which gives the nation a defence against a limited number of long-range ballistic missiles. An integral element of the global ballistic missile defence system, GMD consists of sensors, command-and-control facilities, communications terminals, a 20,000-mile fibre optic communications network and interceptors deployed in underground silos at Vandenberg Air Force Base and Ft. Greely, Alaska. Industry partners include Raytheon, Orbital Sciences Corporation and Northrop Grumman.