By Riki Ellison – In preparation for our nation’s upcoming long-range missile defense intercept test that aims to demonstrate confidence and reliability in defending the United States against long-range missiles from North Korea, the Sea Based X-Band radar (SBX) has gone out to the Pacific from Pearl Harbor.
This best in the world X-Band radar that floats upon a sea worthy oil rig platform uses its small radar waves to project powerfully, at great distances, to reflect back off of all of the dispersing objects that are released from the targeted ballistic missile payloads and the missile’s debris as it travels through space.
This vital information, through processing, discriminates the objects found within the traveling ballistic missile debris cloud and selects the active warhead for an accurate firing solution that is provided to the Ground-Based Interceptors (GBIs) enabling more reliability and success of the intercept. In this wide span of thousands of miles that the SBX covers, it also provides the very important hit assessment of whether the GBI destroyed its target or not.
The hit assessment is absolutely critical to be able to engage with the next GBI if the first GBI hits the wrong object thereby increasing reliability and confidence of the entire system while reducing a costly inefficient multiple shot doctrine that our nation operates on today with a very limited supply of GBIs.
This upcoming test of our first generation GBI missile that will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California against a target missile launched from Kwajalein Atoll over the Pacific Ocean is about the technical merit and confidence of the large X-Band radar to provide accurate discrimination and hit assessment as it is about the success of the first generation GBI intercept that is currently deployed in Alaska and California.
A radar success, in this test, validates a shoot assess shoot capability that mitigates risk exponentially and increases our efficiency by threefold or more of the current inventory of the limited and expensive GBIs. A success by the SBX would endeavor to be the pathfinder to validate and move forward in the production and deployment of X-Band radars forward-based to be the best immediate protection solution of our homeland against the near future’s long-range ballistic missile threats.
Enhancing and deploying sensors to provide shoot assess shoot capability and hit assessment as a priority for the defense of our homeland is recommended by our nation’s Combatant Commanders, MDA, and the Department of Defense. They are after all the most qualified and are the most responsible for the protection of the United States homeland.
Riki Ellison is the Chairman and Founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance