Kodiak rocket complex eyes mid-range interceptor missile tests

Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2001

KODIAK (AP) -- Missiles used for mid-range interceptor missile tests would be headed to the Kodiak Launch Complex under the newest proposal by the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.

The missiles would be safely shipped inside metal canisters, said Lt. Col. Rick Lehner, among the military representatives who spoke during a four hour, animated town meeting in Kodiak Monday night.

Lehner and other officials were on hand to answer questions on how a proposed missile defense test-bed program announced last month might affect the launch facility at Narrow Cape. ''The missile goes inside the canister and the canister goes inside the silo,'' said Lehner, spokesman for the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization in Washington D.C.

The Pentagon's plan is to store the interceptor missiles at Fort Greely, then ship them to the Kodiak Launch Complex for the test launches. The hope is to have the Fort Greely and Kodiak facilities ready for those tests to begin in two years.

Fort Greely is the Pentagon's choice for the full-blown missile defense system should the test bed phase be completed and it is ever deployed.

The plan still needs Congressional approval.

Most of those who spoke from the audience in Kodiak expressed doubts about the new plans, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported.

''I knew this would be a fairy tale and it started six years ago,'' said Vicki Jo Kennedy, one Kodiak's most visible public opponents of the missile defense proposal. ''If you came here with all this then, we would have run you off the island.''

Under the proposed program, the test missiles would be used to shoot down test missiles headed from California or Hawaii.

Colliding with a test warhead would destroy the other missile, and ensure that there is nothing left, according to Lehner. ''There will be no nuclear weapons, no explosives, just hit-to-kill technologies,'' he said.

The goal is to create an integrated missile test bed that can realistically simulate incoming missiles, and that can perform simultaneous intercept tests from a variety of locations, Lehner said.

Kodiak was selected because it was immediately available for use, he said. Launches from Alaska also would most realistically resemble incoming missiles sent from a country like North Korea, he said.

Eric Sorrells, from the Army's Space and Strategic Defense Command, downplayed concerns that Kodiak eventually would be used as a deployment site.

''It's a good place for testing, but is a bad place for deployment,'' Sorrells said, adding that many aspects of the Kodiak facility fail to meet expected performance requirements. Even the Fort Greely site barely meets those requirements, he added.

Fort Greely is the preferred location, however, because it has all the support infrastructure needed for deployment, Sorrels said.

The military initially plans to launch between two to four interceptor test missiles a year, and would like to test as many as seven or eight from Kodiak, Lehner said.

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