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SBX Radar Takes Giant Stride Forward

The Sea-Based X-Band Radar, or SBX platform, is a modified oil-drilling platform.

Washington (UPI) Jul 29, 2005
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency and the Boeing Corporation this week celebrated the dedication of their new Sea-Based X-Band Radar, a crucial step forward in developing any effective anti-ballistic missile system.

The ceremony took place Tuesday at Corpus Christi, Texas. The Sea-Based X-Band Radar, or SBX platform, is a modified oil-drilling platform. Boeing, the lead company in the production team, says the SBX platform measures 240 feet wide and 390 feet long. It includes a power plant, bridge and control rooms, living quarters, storage areas and the infrastructure necessary to support the massive X-band radar.

The X-band radar, sitting on top of the vessel, is the largest, most sophisticated phased array, electro-mechanically steered X-band radar in the world, consisting of thousands of antennae driven by transmit/receive modules, Boeing says.

If the vessel's main deck were flat, it could accommodate a C-5 Galaxy and a C-130 Hercules -- two of the world's largest transport aircraft, safely parked end-to-end -- with enough room left to race three motorcycles side-by-side around them.

According to the Missile Defense Agency, the SBX vessel will be based in Adak, Alaska. However, the SBX will be able to deploy to other locations under its own power. It can be used in conjunction with other missile-defense technologies such as satellites, radars and lasers. The radar is intended to have the capability to defend all 50 U.S. states from a ballistic missile attack by a rogue state, though it will not have the capability to defend against any Multiple Independently-targeted Reentry Vehicles, or MIRV, launch by the Russian Strategic Missile Forces.

The SBX will be used to test the ground-based ABM interceptor system currently being deployed at Fort Greeley, Alaska.

According to a report published on the MissileThreat.com website, Maj. Gen. John Holly -- former head of the GMD program for the Missile Defense Agency -- commented in remarks to Alaska lawmakers that the SBX can defend against missile attacks out of Northeast Asia. That would include North Korea.

"The Sea-Based X-Band Radar represents a critical step in the continuing development of not only the ground-based midcourse defense, but the other elements of the overall ballistic missile defense system as well, adding increased capability across the board for a layered defense against ballistic missiles of all ranges, during any phase of their flight," said Boeing Vice President and General Manager Pat Shanahan.

"The addition of such a revolutionary radar capability will also provide increased flexibility for realistic testing in different flight test scenarios," he said.

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