Kauai's PMRF could be Hawaii's one-shot defense during a missile attack

Kauai's PMRF could be Hawaii's one-shot defense during a missile attack
Updated: May. 2, 2017 at 9:05 PM HST
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BARKING SANDS, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Following rising threats of a nuclear attack from North Korea, some are calling on lawmakers to beef up Hawaii's defenses.

Assuming it has the capability, a North Korea missile aimed at Hawaii would have to be stopped by interceptors fired from military bases in Alaska or California.

Missile defense advocate Riki Ellison doesn't like the odds of placing Hawaii's safety on a one-shot option.

"You have a very tight window because you don't have an opportunity to see if you hit it and then fire again, and you've got the rest of the United States that's got to be protected," he said.

Ellison founded the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance in 2002. He advocates for better missile defense systems to protect the United States.

He said Hawaii needs its own radar and defense capabilities. He believes the Pentagon should equip the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai with Aegis Ashore interceptor missiles, utilizing hardware already in place at the Barking Sands site.

"You can fly in your missiles," he said. "You already have a launcher that can hold eight. You can fly those in in 24 hours. You can turn this thing on. It's unbelievable why we're not doing it."

Hawaii Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is open to the idea, but believes turning PMRF into a missile base might detract from its mission as a test and training site.

"Having visited PMRF recently and spoken to the captain there, I believe that the sense is that PMRF's significance and its importance is really in its ability to do the testing," she said.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard favors arming the range with shoot-down capabilities.

"We've got to take action to make sure that we have a missile defense system in place in Hawaii to defend Hawaii. Given the threat that we're facing there's no time to waste," she said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered five nuclear tests and a slew of missile tests. President Trump warns of major conflict with North Korea.

Pacific Command Adm. Harry Harris told Congress recently that Hawaii needs interceptor missiles in the future.
Ellison believes the sooner the better.

"We all want to have confidence we're not the number one target on the North Korean list, which we are today," he said.
Ellison thinks if the Kauai missile range became a missile intercept launch site it could serve as a deterrent to North Korea's threats.

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