MDA stops work on Hawaii radar EIS

By John Liang / November 8, 2023 at 11:26 AM

The Missile Defense Agency announced today it has stopped work on an environmental impact statement for the construction and operation of a homeland defense radar based in Hawaii.

In a Federal Register notice issued this morning, MDA said the Defense Department "postponed the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii (HDR-H) in 2019, and no funds have been appropriated for the program since fiscal year 2022. The DOD is not moving forward with the HDR-H. As such, the MDA is terminating preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the construction and operation of an HDR-H."

MDA launched the HDR-H project five years ago to increase the ability of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system to protect the archipelago state by helping to better determine threats at extreme distances to guide Ground-based Interceptors to destroy enemy re-entry vehicles with a higher degree of confidence.

The Pentagon’s fiscal year 2024 budget request marks the fourth consecutive year without funding for the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii, a project lawmakers have kept alive by reinstating funds annually.

In December 2018, MDA awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to build HDR-H to improve the U.S. military's intercontinental ballistic missile defense architecture by adding a ground-based sensor on Hawaii to better defend it against North Korean long-range rockets. The original $585 million contract called for Lockheed to design, develop and deliver the HDR-H for a yet-to-be-identified site.

Three years ago, however, the office of cost assessment and program evaluation completed a "Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii Study" that led to a recommendation to stop funding the project and instead divert money toward space-based sensor projects.

Last year, CAPE initiated yet another study taking a broader look at the defense of Hawaii and assessing options to address the evolved threat, according to a Pentagon spokesman.

The House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, in legislation proposed for the FY-24 defense policy bill, would mandate the defense secretary prepare a report within 90 days of the bill's enactment on the integrated air and missile defense architecture for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command with particular focus on the role of Hawaii sensors, Inside Defense reported in June.

If enacted, the provision would require this Defense Department report to identify “investment that should be made to increase the detection of non-ballistic threats and improve the discrimination of ballistic missile threats, particularly with regard to Hawaii.”

In addition, the proposed law would require DOD to outline the costs associated with integrating into the missile defense system any additional sensor to help protect Hawaii.