Photo by Chief Petty Officer Brandon Raile

Cobra Dane

- , December 2018

Quick Facts

Mobility Stationary
Role Long-range radar for U.S. ballistic missile defense system
Frequency L-Band
Range 2,000 miles (3,200 km)
Status Deployed at Eareckson Air Station in Alaska
Producer Raytheon


The U.S. Air Force operates the Cobra Dane Radar at Eareckson Air Station on Shemya Island, Alaska.[i]It is a stationary radar that provides midcourse coverage for the United States ballistic missile defense (BMD) system, primarily working with the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD)system in defense of the U.S. homeland from long-range ballistic missile threats.  The Cobra Dane is a long-range phased array radar that can detect objects 2,000 miles away.[ii][iii]The radar has a 95-foot diameter and stands 120 foot tall.

Cobra Dane serves multiple roles in the BMD system. The radar can detect both Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and Sea-launched missiles in its coverage area.[iv]Upon detection it can classify reentry vehicles and other objects in space during reentry. Fire and Mission Control for the GMD system can use the Cobra Dane for real-time information, and the radar accurately tracks ballistic missiles to commit the launch of Ground-Based Interceptor missiles. It can also provide information to update ballistic missile tracking after the launch of the interceptor.[v]


December 2015: Air Force officials announced a $77 million contract to Raytheon to upgrade the radar.[vi]

May 2015: The Cobra Dane Radar transferred to the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Battle Management Directorate from Air Force Space Command.

March 2003: The Cobra Dane Radar was upgraded to full power and gained a role in the U.S. BMD system.

October 1999: The Cobra Dane had successful tests at detecting small debris in space which brought back its role in the Space Surveillance Network.

April 1994: The Cobra Dane’s role in the Space Surveillance Network was eliminated.

1977: The Cobra Dane Radar became operational.

Recent News

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Featured Image by Chief Petty Officer Brandon Raile (DVIDS