Testimony from the director of the Missile Defense Agency today suggests Alaska will likely remain the cornerstone of the nation’s ground-based missile defense operations, at least in the near term. In Congress, some members have cheered the idea of a new missile site in the East. The Pentagon is considering locating one in Maine, New York, Ohio or Michigan.
But Missile Defense Agency Director James Syring says he doesn’t believe that’s a priority now. Someday, he says, the program would benefit from a third U.S. missile site, in addition to the existing ones at Fort Greely and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Together they’re slated to have 44 interceptors by 2017. But he says his investment priority is Long-Range Discrimination Radar, a system likely to be built in Alaska also.
“The LRDR is critically important to where I see the threat from North Korea going in the near future, with the capability of becoming more complex, requiring more interceptors, and us, and the war fighter needing the assurance that we have persistent track and discrimination capability against that threat,” he said. “It is a must.”
Syring says he hopes to award a contract for the radar system by fall. Contractors were told to assume the system would be built at Clear Air Force Station, southwest of Fairbanks.