FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A clock in Boeing's offices counts the minutes -- down to the nearest tenth of a second -- until Sept. 30, 2004. That's the date Boeing is scheduled to finish its work on the silos at Fort Greely that will house America's new missile defense system.
With more silo sites planned for excavation this summer, workers are rushing to meet that deadline, a Boeing executive said Friday.
''We've been trying to manage expectations -- both yours and the government's and ours -- to be realistic. We know it's not going to be perfect by then,'' said Richard Black, Boeing's deputy program manager for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense interceptor missile test bed.
A warm winter aided construction at Fort Greely, helping workers gain ground on a tight schedule, said Maj. Eric Maxon, public affairs officer for the defense site activation command.
Black outlined how the missile defense system will work to more than 80 people in Fairbanks. Boeing, prime contractor for the project, is opening a Fairbanks office.
At Fort Greely, six silo sites have been excavated, fitted with a liner and capped for the winter, Maxon said. The actual silos will be trucked up the Richardson Highway and installed this summer.
Black said additional sites will be excavated this summer, when another missile field also is cleared for future work.
Meanwhile, construction is under way on support facilities at the base. By 2005, target missiles could be launched from the south end of Kodiak Island to test the system, Black said.
The goal is to have 10 interceptor sites operational in 2004, four at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and six at Fort Greely, Maxon said.
''Those initial six interceptors (at Fort Greely) will provide the initial defense capability to protect against long-range missile attacks,'' he said.
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