Alaska Anti-Missile Radar “Absolutely Vital,” MDA Head Tells Murkowski

Senator “Encouraged” by Reports on Long-Rang Discrimination Radar System

Senator Lisa Murkowski today questioned the head of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) about a significant new advancement in the national defense: the long range discrimination radar system, which MDA has publicly implied will be built in Alaska.  Given Senator Murkowski’s advocacy for this project – and Alaska’s ideal location (letter attached) – she sought clarity on where the process stands, given the stated ten year timetable for construction.

Vice Admiral James Syring, Director of the MDA, told Senator Murkowski that due to recent military threats and rhetoric coming from North Korea, he considers the radar project “absolutely vital” and is taking an “aggressive” posture in terms of moving the project along.  Though the exact location within Alaska remains to be determined, he did not dispute her understanding that Alaska would be the home of the system.

(Murkowski questions MDA Director Syring about nation’s radar defense – click here to watch.)

Murkowski opened her questioning by saying:

“We follow pretty closely in Alaska what is going on with missile defense and take the role that we have as a state where we are a host to the ground-based missile defense system at Ft Greely very seriously. I have been encouraged by what we have been seeing coming out of the development out of the long range discrimination radar and the fielding schedule we are looking at to have it operational within Alaska within this next decade … I have been told consistently that this will be based in Alaska and there has been some discussion as to where it might be and how the siting will impact the effectiveness of that. When will decisions be made public?”

Vice Admiral Syring responded:


“There are 8 active trade studies that we’re conducting within MDA to answer those exact questions in terms of where’s the best placement of the radar, what is the right frequency of the radar, what is the right power of the radar to meet what we project to be the threat in 2020. The importance of the radar is that it provides us that needed discrimination capability against the threat from North Korea. As they continue to progress and add decoys and counter-measures, I’ll stop there in terms of classification, we must have a discrimination capability of a radar to counter that. To keep our shot doctrine manageable and to defeat raid sizes of more than one. I view it in conjunction with the redesign that I asked for in this budget as well as the two most critical components of the GMD program going forward, in addition to the needed reliability improvements. It’s absolutely vital…


“Over the course of the summer, I’m on a very aggressive timeline to award this radar in FY15 to meet the FY20 capability, which I view as critical.”