U.S. fields new radar designed to detect ballistic missiles from N. Korea
By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 (Yonhap) -- The United States on Monday completed the construction of a new long-range radar in Alaska that is designed to give early warnings for incoming ballistic missiles from rogue nations, such as North Korea, the chief of the U.S. missile defense said.
Vice Adm. Jon Hill, director of U.S. Missile Defense Agency, also explained the new long range discrimination radar (LRDR) will be powerful enough to discriminate or identify lethal objects, such as warheads, allowing the U.S. to successfully intercept such objects.
"There's a rogue nation there (in the INDO-PACOM region) that is targeting the United States, (has) demonstrated ballistic missile capability time and again and very recently," Hill said in a virtual media roundtable, referring to North Korea.
"So the radar was strategically placed in Alaska, so with this wide field of view that we can capture threats coming from that region," he added.
His remarks came shortly after the U.S. marked the initial fielding of the new radar, which the MDA director said will likely become fully operational "roughly in 2023" after testing and systems integration.
The U.S. began constructing the long-range radar following a series of missile provocations from North Korea.
Pyongyang has maintained a self-imposed moratorium on long-range ballistic missiles since November 2017, but staged several short-range missile tests this year, including the test launch of a self-claimed hypersonic missile in September and a submarine-launched ballistic missile the following month.
Hill said the LRDR will eventually be upgraded to track hypersonic missiles, though its current focus is to detect ballistic missile threats.
Still, the radar will be "very powerful" and will "pick out the lethal objects," as opposed to decoys or non-lethal objects from a missile, such as boosters or fuel cans.
"If we can pick out the lethal objects, then we're going to be shooting at that lethal object and not at boosters or beanbags," Hill said.
"So that's the technical geek stuff behind the term discrimination. It's picking out the lethal object or lethal objects."
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