The Missile Defense Agency is seeking public comment on potential Hawaii locations for the Homeland Defense Radar, shown here in an artist’s conceptual rendering. (Missile Defense Agency)
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii – The Missile Defense Agency is once again seeking public comment on potential Hawaii locations for a radar defense array in Hawaii after it abandoned two proposed sites following public opposition.
The agency is evaluating two sites for the Homeland Defense Radar, which would identify, track and classify long-range ballistic missile threats while still in flight at mid-point.
The sites under consideration are the US Army Kahuku Training Area at the northern tip of Oahu and the US Navy Pacific Missile Fire Facility on the island of Kauai. Two previously reviewed sites on Oahu have been discontinued, the agency said in a notice first published last month in the Federal Register.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 required the agency to develop plans to build and operate a so-called “discrimination radar” to defend Hawaii against missile threats by quickly and closely identifying the objects as lethal or non-lethal.
The most recent defense law passed in January provided additional funding for the “location and development” of the Hawaii radar “if a deployment decision is made and funded,” the agency said in the report. Federal Register.
Construction of a similar radar in Alaska is largely complete, the agency said in a press release late last month. The long-range discrimination radar at Clear Air Force Station, about 90 miles southwest of Fairbanks in central Alaska, will begin initial operations later this year.
In Hawaii, the agency held “scoping meetings” for the public in June 2018 for the three original sites, all located in Oahu. Some Oahu residents have expressed concern about another military installation on an island that is already home to the four services and thousands of military personnel.
Some opponents of one site worried about overdevelopment, while some native Hawaiians pledged to protest a second site on cultural grounds.
But the agency also determined that one of the sites – near the U.S. Air Force’s Kaena Point satellite tracking station – was impractical due to radio interference between the two facilities.
The airspace over the ultimately selected site would be restricted as the radar would emit high-intensity radiation that could negatively affect the aircraft’s electrical systems, the agency said.
The public input now sought by the Missile Defense Agency is being gathered ahead of an environmental impact assessment for the proposed sites, if the Defense Ministry goes ahead with funding the project, the agency said.
Due to the restrictions related to the pandemic, no in-person public meetings are held. Instead, the agency is hosting an “online open house” at https://hdrheis.com until April 12.
In addition, two public meetings by conference call are in progress. The first on March 23 is 4 to 6 p.m. Hawaii time at 855-756-7520, passcode 69947. The call on March 25 is from 6 to 8 p.m. Hawaii time to the same number, code d ‘access 70114.
The information provided in each call is identical, the agency said.