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By Aenet Rowa

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Yokwe, Dec. 20) – More than 40 technology and infrastructure projects are planned for the U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll/Reagan Test Site (USAKA/RTS), including control center upgrades, facility improvements, and radar modernization.

The projects are part of the Army's new master plan approved December 17.

To meet the increasing bandwidth requirements for operational and developmental testing, the Army says a submarine fiber optical cable network connecting Kwajalein to the Pacific basin optical cable network is under consideration.

The Army Test Resources Master Plan (ATRMP) is intended to shape decision making regarding range development, acquisition, and deployment. Included in the FY 07-11 Program Objective Memorandum are directives for the Army's ATEC’s test infrastructure and Major Range and Test Facility Bases (MRTFB), including USAKA/RTS located in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

The Army report says the Reagan Test Site is important to the Department of Defense not only for its strategic location but also for its world-class suite of sensors that support a variety of missile testing programs and space operations.

The Kwajalein facility is part of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (USASMDC), which supports the Army’s space and National Missile Defense (NMD) and for Theater Missile Defense (TMD).

Lieutenant General Larry J. Dodgen is SMDC Commanding General. Four Army Commanding Generals, including Dodgen, were involved in the coordination of the Testing and Evaluation master plan.

According to the Memorandum, the USAKA/RTS (formally the Kwajalein Missile Range) mission is to operate a DOD MRTFB element by providing a comprehensive missile testing environment and support space operations/surveillance.

"USAKA/RTS provides multi-level strategic and ballistic missile defense system testing to include system interoperability testing, sensor system research and development testing, and conducts space operations including space object identification, space surveillance, and new foreign space launch tracking in support of the U.S. Strategic Command and NASA."

USAKA/RTS has supported hundreds of Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) developmental and operational tests and was the site of the first ICBM intercept in 1962.

The USAKA/RTS radars provide unique continuous first orbital revolution coverage of most Chinese, Russian, Japanese, French Guinea, Indian, and other Asian continent launches within one hour after launch.

"In addition, USAKA/RTS supports the Compact of Free Association with the Republic of the Marshall Islands," states the POM.

Twenty-three military personnel are assigned to USAKA/RTS. There are 65 authorized civilians, 1,034 contractors with 905 families/dependents, and 1,140 Marshallese workers.

There are 834 buildings totaling 3 million square feet at the 1,361-acre facility. The range covers 100,000 plus square miles of airspace and has up and downrange capabilities. Replacement costs for the facility would be $4 billion.

Major investment projects highlighted in the POM include range safety control center improvement and modernization, Kwajalein mission control center modernization, 70/35mm film to digital conversion, MPS-36 modernization, and millimeter wave (MMW) radar performance enhancement.

During these times of fiscal constraint and changing roles and missions, the Memorandum notes that the Army Test Resources Master Plan is the "one document that cogently explains the our work of today and our vision for the future."

December 23, 2004

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