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This article was Originally Published on Aug 25, 2005 in Volume: 4  Issue: 2

Floating Radar

Recently dedicated sea-based assigned key role in missile defense.

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The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Boeing-led Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX) industry team have officially dedicated the SBX radar, a key component of Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program.

SBX consists of a highly advanced X-band radar system mounted on a sea-going platform. It will be able to track, discriminate and assess a variety of ballistic missile threats. SBX passes data to elements of the ballistic missile defense system to facilitate the interception of missiles by ground and/or sea-based interceptors. The radar will continue to relay updated targeting information after an interceptor launches its kill vehicle toward the incoming target. Initially, the radar will be used to support both operations and testing of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, which is specifically designed to provide a defense against a limited long-range ballistic missile attack.

SBX's floating platform, a modified oil-drilling vessel, measures 240 feet wide and 390 feet long. It includes a power plant, bridge and control rooms, living quarters, storage areas and the infrastructure necessary to support the massive X-band radar. The X-band radar, sitting on top of the vessel, is the largest, most sophisticated phased array, electro-mechanically steered X-band radar in the world, consisting of thousands of antennae driven by transmit/receive modules.

Over the next several months, the SBX will undergo a wide range of sea trials and exercises before cruising to its homeport of Adak, AK, in the Aleutian Islands. It will be capable of moving throughout the Pacific Ocean to support missile defense advanced testing and defensive operations.

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