In December, the Missile Defense Agency placed its eighth interceptor missile into an underground silo at Fort Greely, Alaska. Two more interceptors already have been emplaced at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. These anti-ballistic missiles are designed to destroy attacking long-range enemy ballistic missiles.
“The interceptors are part of an integrated system of ground, sea and space-based sensors, ground and sea-based radars and an advanced command and control, battle management and communication system designed to detect and track a hostile ballistic missile, then launch and guide an interceptor to destroy the target warhead before it can reach its intended target in any of our 50 states,” MDA spokesman Rick Lehner said.
The interceptors “can be brought to alert status in an emergency but they are not yet on 24/7 alert,” Lehner added. “‘Shakedown’ training sessions are still ongoing by U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Northern Command.”
The article is a good overview of our missile defense efforts. While unhappy that the ground-based leg of the NMD program hasn’t performed all that well so far, I totally believe in the effort and will continue to insist that it is worthwhile.
Meanwhile, a reader tips me off to this great pic of the Sea Based X-Band Radar platform:
The heavy lift vessel MV Blue Marlin enters Pearl Harbor, Hawaii with the Sea Based X-Band Radar (SBX) aboard after completing a 15,000-mile journey from Corpus Christi, Texas. SBX is a combination of the world’s largest phased array X-band radar carried aboard a mobile, ocean-going semi-submersible oil platform. It will provide the nation with highly advanced ballistic missile detection and will be able to discriminate a hostile warhead from decoys and countermeasures. SBX will undergo minor modifications, post-transit maintenance and routine inspections in Pearl Harbor before completing its voyage to its homeport of Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 2nd Class Ryan C. McGinley (RELEASED)
Check out the source page for a high-res version with incredible detail. Here’s another pic.