Inouye secures $150 million in defense funds for Kaua’i

This week U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye (D, Hawai’i) has managed to get written into federal legislation funding of nearly $150 million for Kaua’i military initiatives.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, chaired by Inouye, drafted the language of the Senate version of the Fiscal Year 2003 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill, which passed a House-Senate conference committee vote yesterday.

That bill includes over $60 million for programs at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, and another $62 million for Office of Naval Research programs on Kaua’i.

The ONR is expected to be a tenant in the second phase of the West Kauai Technology Center, nearing completion next to Waimea Canyon Park along Kaumuali’i Highway.

A third of the PMRF money, $21.3 million, is for theater missile defense upgrades.

On Wednesday, the FY 2003 Military Construction Appropriations Bill was approved by House-Senate conferees, and includes $23.4 million for a new missile test facility at Barking Sands.

The PMRF portion is nearly 10 percent of the entire Hawai’i amount in the construction bill.

The new missile test facility is designed to test missiles engineered to identify and eliminate enemy missiles within and outside the earth’s atmosphere.

There have been 11 tests of the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system, all launched from a New Mexico test range, with varying degrees of success.

The construction bill has the support of Pres. George Bush, and if the bill is signed into law, the THAAD facility at Barking Sands could be finished by summer 2004.

Design was completed, and the construction contract is scheduled to go out to bid in January 2003. Construction could begin as early as April of next year, said Chris Taylor of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

The project includes a new launch site and radar facility, maintenance support facility, central support facility, security fencing and lighting, and several buildings to accommodate up to 50 people, he said.

THAAD tests on Kaua’i are a few years away, Taylor said.

It is anticipated that THAAD, a project of the U.S. Army and MDA, will share information with U.S. Navy personnel also testing missiles at the base, said Sandi Skousen, Inouye’s press secretary.

The bill if approved will further position PMRF as a key facility in both current and future missile-defense initiatives, she said. The bills approved by the conference committees still must win full-House and full-Senate votes before moving to Bush.

The construction bill contains $257 million for construction projects in Hawai’i, according to Inouye.

The funds will be used for projects to strengthen the national defense system and improve the morale of military personnel, while providing a boost to the local construction industry, Inouye said.

Lockheed Missiles & Space Company is the primary civilian contractor for THAAD, described as a long-range defense against present and future theater ballistic missiles.

Lockheed is also scheduled to move in to the second phase of the Waimea technology center.

The THAAD system is designed to be mobile, capable of being loaded onto a C-130 or C-141 transport plane, and is designed to use missiles to bring down enemy missiles over 100 miles from intended targets.

Currently in the program definition and risk-reduction phase, THAAD is part of a much-larger, Terminal Defense Segment of the MDA, which aims to take out enemy missiles during their terminal phases, or that one-minute window during which missiles re-enter the earth’s atmosphere.

The MDA has a $6.7-billion budget for fiscal year 2003, which began this month. The THAAD system is being designed to protect troops, population centers and other assets against missile attacks.

The MDA was established at the beginning of this year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to manage development of effective missile defenses. U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald T. Kadish is MDA director.

The program is managed by the BMDO and executed by the U.S. Army Program Executive Office, Air and Missile Defense, and the U.S. Army THAAD project manager in Huntsville, Ala.

Army soldiers from the 1st Battalion 6th Air Defense Artillery Brigade have participated in THAAD testing and development.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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