Yearlong delay hits operational test of Alaska-based missile defense radar

April 30, 2021


The U.S. Air Force’s ballistic missile defense radar being installed at Clear Air Force Station, Alaska, won’t have its only operational flight test for another year, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.

The Long Range Discrimination Radar was supposed to have its flight test in the third quarter of fiscal 2021 after two ground tests, but the coronavirus pandemic, which has affected the program overall, has resulted in the need to move the test back to the final quarter of fiscal 2022.

The Missile Defense Agency said earlier this year that the LRDR was on track to reach initial operational capability in FY21, which the GAO indicated in its own report is the case.

But the Air Force will not take ownership of the operational radar until the third quarter of FY23 after the operational flight test. The original transfer was to take place in the fourth quarter of FY22, according to the report.

The MDA had to stop all construction and integration activities for LRDR at Clear Air Force Station when the novel coronavirus began spreading in the U.S. in March 2020. The program went into “caretaker status,” meaning just a small group stayed at the site to ensure the materials were protected from the elements…

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