Kauai's missile test range could become a combat-ready site - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Kauai's missile test range could become a combat-ready site

This photo shows a flight test of a land-based missile defense system at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai. Photo Source: Missile Defense Agency This photo shows a flight test of a land-based missile defense system at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai. Photo Source: Missile Defense Agency
BARKING SANDS, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The military is considering converting the current missile test range on Kauai to a fully-functional combat ready site, according to a new Reuters report.

Hawaii analysts say the potential change makes strategic sense, especially in light of recent heightened tensions with North Korea.

"We can see it as anticipation on our part that North Korea is at some point going to conceivably have an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) nuclear capability that we think could actually hit U.S. territory," said East West Center senior fellow Denny Roy.

The Navy says the Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands on Kauai is the world's largest multi-environment range, covering some 1,100 square miles underwater and 42,000 square miles of airspace. 

Activating it could be a game changer.

"Geographically, it makes sense to have a place in the middle of the Pacific," Roy said. "You want to have a terrestrial capability in addition to the ship-based capabilities that we have."

The active missile defense system Aegis is based on land in Alaska and California, as well as on board 84 US Naval warships.

Converting Barking Sands to an active site has been talked about before, but given North Korea's recent nuclear tests, it's taking on new urgency. A defense system in Hawaii could also address China's military advancement, experts say.

"From the Chinese point of view, if this was to occur, the United States would have a free hand with nuclear cover. In effect the United States would have a gun but China would be disarmed," Roy said.

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