Front Lines of Missile Defense

October 18, 2006

This past week, MDAA has had the honor to tour two U.S. government missile defense assets that are integral to the overall system and are deployed on the front line of our western states, and also countries in the Pacific Ocean. MDAA visited the Sea-Based X-Band Radar in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, hosted by program manager Colonel John Fellows and the U.S.S. John Paul Jones (DDG 53), an Aegis-class destroyer participating in an exercise in the Pacific Ocean off of San Diego, California with Captain Jim Housinger and his 350-plus crew.

The Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX-1), with its more than 40,000 modules that eminate X-Band beams to discriminate numerous small objects at high speeds and at long distances, offers not only superior intercept coordination and fire control solutions to the missile defense interceptors while they are in-flight, but also provides vital object discrimination capabilities against decoys and other countermeasures–this is a tremendous capability ignored by critics. This floating, highly-mobile system component will be placed in an extremely strategic location in Adak, Alaska, and can track with high-definition the life and death of a long range North Korean or other hostile ballistic missile. Proving its technology during the most recent long-range missile defense test on September 1, 2006, the SBX was evaluated against all sensors used in the test, and showed that it has incredible capability. The SBX is currently performing a scheduled maintenance stop in Hawaii before heading north to Adak for additional winter testing in the harsh conditions of the northern Pacific Ocean. Emergency capability could be available as early as next spring with permanent capability in the fall of 2007. This system is both an operational and testing asset, as it will continue to support operationally realistic testing throughout the Pacific Ocean, and will also serve as an operational radar when needed.

The U.S.S John Paul Jones is one of 18 Aegis-class ships that has been or will be modified for a missile defense role. Upgrades to the highly-capable SPY-1 radar give the ships the capability to detect, track and provide targeting information to the missile defense command and control system. The three cruisers and 15 destroyers will continue to evolve into interceptor-carrying vessels that are already providing an operational missile defense capability against short to medium-range ballistic missiles. The cruisers U.S.S. Shiloh (CG-67) deployed in the Sea of Japan and the U.S.S. Port Royal (CG-73) and U.S.S Lake Erie (CG-70) currently docked next to the SBX-1 on the Bravo Pier in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii are the first three ships to have an operational missile defense engagement capability, and this capability will be added to the Aegis destroyers over the next few years. MDAA was on the U.S.S. John Paul Jones in international waters while the ship’s crew completed operational training exercises that displayed maneuverability, combat training and use of its layered defensive systems. The crew demonstrated the ship’s capability to deal with a variety of surface-to-air and ship-to-ship capabilities using Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) anti-surface-to-air missiles, ship-to-surface Tomahawk cruise missiles and its ship-to-ship Harpoon missiles, combined with a variety of sensors for below and above 360-degree surface detection and discrimination for hundreds of miles in any direction. This tremendous technology provides significant military utility that can deter and dissuade those that may serve to compromise U.S. national security interests.

It is important that Americans continue to recognize the contributions being made every day by the U.S. sailors that serve in all the world’s oceans to protect our nation and defend our freedoms and security from the seas.

In respect of our nation’s first naval victory in 1779, the Serapis flag still flies on the mast of the U.S.S John Paul Jones when it enters and leaves port, commemorating the defeat of the British warship Serapis by Captain John Paul Jones. When asked by the British captain to surrender, Captain Jones responsed, Sir, I have not yet begun to Fight. This spirit continues for the crew of the U.S.S John Paul Jones, and for our United States Navy and our Armed Forces.

Click here to view photos from last week’s MDAA Honolulu and San Diego Champion Events.

NOTES FROM MY TRIP:

Dateline: Manama, Bahrain

MDAA visited with Vice Admiral Patrick M. Walsh Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Commander, Combined Maritime Forces. In discussions, points were raised on the need to deter and dissuade Iran with Aegis Destroyers outfitted with SM 3 missile defense capability and SPY band radar upgrades.

MDAA also met with Marine Brigadier General Anthony L Jackson, Deputy Commander, U.S Marine Corps Forces Central Command, and Coast Guard Commander Richard Burke and toured the USCG Maui a 110 foot patrol boat. Of major concern is the interdiction of illegal and smuggled arms shipping in and around the Persian Gulf and its bordering countries. We will continue to keep you posted on our travels.

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