BARKING SANDS — The U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility is being considered as a new location of a ballistic missile defense radar that would take up between 50 and 80 acres at Barking Sands.
It’s one of four proposed sites for the $1.9 billion Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii (HDR-H), a high-powered, ballistic-missile-radar system. Other sites include two locations at the U.S. Army’s Kahuku Training Area and one at Kaena Point on Oahu.
The radar would be flat-facing, 80 to 90 feet tall, about 50 feet wide, and would further fortify the U.S. missile defense system in Hawaii.
The Missile Defense Agency says they’ll be picking a site for the radar in March or April of this year, and construction is set for 2023.
Should it be chosen, PMRF’s environmental team will be helping the MDA review impacts on the installation area, though the MDA team will be taking lead on the environmental impact statement process.
“PMRF’s environmental team is providing guidance to the MDA environmental team to avoid cultural and environmental impacts to the maximum extent possible should PMRF be considered as a viable HDR-H alternative,” said PMRF commanding officer, Capt. Tim Young, in a Wednesday statement to TGI.
That means looking into how the HDR-H would affect native seabirds, endangered marine animals and other sensitive animals and habitats on Kauai. It also means looking at how the radar would impact the island culturally.
Young said he’s confident in his environmental team’s ability to guide the MDA in accurate analysis for an EIS. He points out they have an “excellent track record in stewardship at PMRF,” and won the 2019 Navy Community Service Environmental Stewardship Award in June.
“The cultural significance of the landscape and the diverse array of native Hawaiian species at PMRF are resources that the Navy is mandated to protect,” Young said. “We intend to stay the course to honor that responsibility. We take our commitment to protect and care for our natural and cultural resources very seriously.”
PMRF’s proximity to sensitive habitats, coastal areas and culturally significant places isn’t unique. All the choices currently on the list to house the HDR-H are near sites that are either historically, culturally or environmentally important.
In December 2018, MDA chose Lockheed Martin to design, manufacture and construct the HDR-H. In that announcement, MDA said the HDR-H would provide “autonomous acquisition and persistent precision tracking and discrimination to counter growing threats.”
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or email@example.com.