Military officials address residents' concerns over location of missile radar

Updated: Jun. 20, 2018 at 12:09 AM HST
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(image: Hawaii News Now)
(image: Hawaii News Now)

NORTH SHORE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The thought of a new military installation next to the Kaena Point Satellite Tracking Station is prompting some concerns on Oahu's North Shore.

Military officials say Congress directed the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to develop a plan to build a radar to improve missile defense for Hawaii.

"Mainly I'm concerned about trail access, public access to the mountain, especially Mokuleia. A lot of people like to hike Peacock Flats, Kealia Trail," said Waialua resident Matthew Cabamongan.

The military is pushing for this new radar to replace the Sea-Based X-Band Radar which is becoming less effective.

Deputy Director for the agency, Rear Admiral Jon A. Hill, says the new radar would the first-of-its-kind in the world with a longer range that can tell real missiles from decoys.

The new radar will be at least three times larger than the one at the Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands on Kauai, and the total cost estimate for the project is about $1 billion, according to Hill.

"Hawaii has been a strategic location for as long as I could remember," Rear Admiral Hill said. "Whether the threat does stay static, which is never has, my 30 some odd years in the Navy, I've never seen the threat stay static. It's gonna continue to evolve and become more complex."

"Hawaii will continue to be a place that is desired for strategic control," Hill said.

Officials with MDA made their pitch at Sunset Beach Elementary on Tuesday night to be good stewards to the community. It was the first of three public meeting being held on Oahu this week.

The other two meetings will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday at Keehi Lagoon Memorial Park, and Thursday at Waianae High School.

Kaena Point is one of three locations being considered for the giant one-of-a-kind radar. The military is also looking at two possible locations at the Army's Kahuku Training Area.

"We recognize that Hawaii is a special place. My mother grew up here," Hill said. "I have an appreciation for the island, for its ecology, for its ancient sites. There's a lot here that has to be protected."

"And so, understanding what all those risks are, and the concerns might be, is part of why we're here today," Hill said.

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