Janene Scully / Lompoc Record – 2004-12-05 21:45:35
(December 5, 2004) — Countdown clocks ticking off minutes, hours and days will hit zero with this week’s installation of the first missile defense interceptor at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
On a remote section of northern Vandenberg early Tuesday morning, crews expect to begin lowering the first missile defense interceptor to its underground home. Rain or heavy wind could force the crews to postpone their work, officials warned.
The missile, and a second to be added this month, join six already in place in silos at Fort Greely, Alaska, for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense segment designed to shoot down limited, long-range missiles fired at the United States.
“When they become operational at a later date, the interceptors will be integrated with radars and other sensors to an extensive command, control, battle management and communication system …,” the Missile Defense Agency said in a written statement.
This week’s work at Vandenberg culminates months of construction to ready silos for the interceptors. Two additional launch facilities at Vandenberg have been modified and will serve as dual-use silos to launch interceptors during operationally realistic flight tests and could be used for operational interceptors.
“We have worked on it for a very long time, and people have worked very hard on it for a very long time, and it is coming to fruition,” said Richard Lehner, Missile Defense Agency spokesman. “And I think people are very pleased to be doing something to actively defend the country (against missile attack).”
The System is Costly and Unproven
The military doesn’t plan any ceremony to mark the arrival of the controversial system. Critics have charged that the system won’t work and will spark a new global arms race.
“I must confess I was really surprised that they did not have a big ribbon-cutting ceremony back on Oct. 1,” said John Pike, a military analyst with GlobalSecurity.org. “I would have thought there would have been orgy of self congratulation and that there would have great rejoicing and dedication of the Ronald Reagan Memorial Peace Shield and it didn’t happen.”
Associate Editor Janene Scully can be reached at 739-2214 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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