Navy ships out radar system ahead of North Korea launch
March 29th, 2012
06:50 PM ET

Navy ships out radar system ahead of North Korea launch

By Barbara Starr

The U.S. military is sending its most advanced radar system to the Pacific region ahead of North Korea's expected launch of a long-range missile in mid-April, according to a senior U.S. Navy official.

The Sea-Based X-Band Radar sits atop a floating platform and has the ability to search and track targets. In addition, the system can communicate with potential U.S. interceptor missiles at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, that could shoot down a target missile.  But the North Koreans have said they plan to launch their missile in a southerly direction, which would mean it is highly doubtful the intercept capability would be needed or used. 

The U.S. military will not officially say the radar is being deployed for the North Korean launch, but one senior U.S. official called the SBX-1 deployment "precautionary."  Both officials declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information.

The Navy official acknowledged that the SBX-1 set sail from Pearl Harbor on March 23. The platform can operate hundreds of miles from the target area it is scanning, so it is not expected to sail close to North Korea.

Military officials have said they are worried the North Korean missile might be so unreliable that debris could fall on a number of Asian countries rather than into the ocean as the North Koreans have said.

SBX-1 is at best an odd-looking military asset. The platform is 240 feet wide, 390 feet long and 280 feet high from the keel to the top of the radar dome that sits on top of the platform. It is staffed with a crew of 86 military and civilian personnel.  In 2009, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered it to sea in advance of a North Korean missile launch at that time.

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Filed under: Asia • Japan • Military • Navy • North Korea • Phillipines
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    April 4, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  56. Thomas

    Flood North Korea with iPhones , free cellular and wifi for a year , free apps , like the cooking networker or Martha Stewart's Korean BBQ App . North Korea would fall in six months !

    It's a lot less expensive then all this Military hardware we poor down the drain over this 3ed generation Daddy Boy Dictator.

    April 2, 2013 at 12:17 am | Reply
  57. Jejuman

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    Both are trying to intimidate each other but neither side will step up to the plate and fire! Let's get it over with once and for all.

    April 1, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  58. G. Flint

    Cut off the news rhetoric and the replies to the North. Un is interested in how many times he can make the front page or prime news spot. Cut him off and the garbage can threats will go away as well. Un is educated in the west and he knows what will happen if a war breaks out. Even China cannot support N. Korean stupidity on it's border. The N. Koreans have become an embarrassment for both the Chinese and the Russians.

    April 1, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Reply
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    April 1, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Reply
  60. John

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    April 1, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Reply
    • bob

      wow, such a brilliant statement, we should kill a man who just makes threats to start another war

      April 1, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Reply
      • Stanley MuFcckin Kubrick

        We do it in Pakistan, Yemen & other places.. almost weekly.

        April 1, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • Bob

      The only thing with we have to put up with is John's spelling ...."preditor".

      April 1, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Reply
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    April 1, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Reply
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      April 1, 2013 at 5:40 pm | Reply
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      April 1, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Reply
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  67. Ric

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    April 2, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Reply
  68. cas

    Talk about having your priorities screwed up, lets see state of the art military tech or food for our people? Lets go with state of the art tech please. That country needs to rethink its direction in a bad way.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  69. 4commonsensenow

    I can just see North Korean astronauts in space looking down in amazement to the fact the rest of the world leaves the lights on.

    March 30, 2012 at 10:30 am | Reply
    • frank

      Its a MISSILE! Not a space capsule!

      March 30, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  70. desert voice (troubledgoodangel or Nathanael or Bohdan or Voiceinthedesert)

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    March 30, 2012 at 5:51 am | Reply
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      Uhmmm, ok!

      March 30, 2012 at 9:06 am | Reply
    • Rico

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      March 30, 2012 at 9:49 am | Reply
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      When you are dead, you are dead! Not in "heaven"... just dead!

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      April 1, 2013 at 5:29 pm | Reply
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    March 30, 2012 at 2:21 am | Reply
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  72. toadears

    we are watching you, kim jr. Does anybody know where the younger leader stands on any issue yet?

    March 30, 2012 at 2:17 am | Reply
  73. max

    It's really a floating Omnimax theatre to entertain the troops.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:01 am | Reply
  74. make_it_rain1985

    So, North Korea admitted to aiming this missile or rocket in a southerly direction and people want to question and bring light of this situtation? Are you kidding me? Whats to the direct south of NORTH Korea? Our boys in the 2nd Infantry Division! Thats who. I was a part of the 2nd Infantry Division based out of JBLM from 2005-2008. In those days it was referred to as Fort Lewis. Those are my "Brothers" and if anything ever happens to them then ill be buying me a ticket to fly over there and fight for and with them. You western raised and uneducated people just have no idea of the power of North Korea and the impact of what a war with them would cause because all you have ever done is watch Foxnews or local news. Pick up a book or encyclopedia and take heed to the situation at-hand and you will come to the realization of what North Korea is and who their allies are. If you think that the United States is simply the "Police force of the world" then you are taking your rights as an American for granted. If not for The United States of America, who would ever stand-up for anyone in this world? Who could you ever depend on for safety? Ive served 2 times in Iraq and im not trying to make my tours a pity party but you people that have never in your lives seen combat, appreciate it because to be honest with you, September 11, 2001 has nothing on what the near future holds.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:58 am | Reply
    • some_guy

      The missile is being fired from the west coast of nK such that it will not – or should not – pass over any other country's landmass. Look at a map, direct south from the west coast of nK is not 2ID, that's more south-easternly.

      Besides, 2ID are a bunch of shitheads and are responsible for 80% of all liberty incidents on peninsula...just sayin'.

      March 30, 2012 at 7:48 am | Reply
    • martin

      @make_it_rain1985-FIRST off you are an idiot because you obviously DO NOT know how to read a map, secondly, if you really think China & Russia will do anything you are more of an idiot. China is built for DEFENSE only IF invaded and if you actually look at a map, strategically you would know this, more so what can they do. Tell me where they would group up a force? No where because geographically where they are. Russia is so bad off right now economically they were be useless. I really dont think you have any idea what you are talking about. Seeing as I am a history major and was in the airforce for 8 years and am fully aware of things that are going on. Do some of your own research because you just made the military look bad. lol

      March 30, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Reply
      • doingtherightthingispolitcalsuicide

        First off, calling someone an idiot right off the bat just makes you look like one yourself. Secondly, you were in the airforce so that right there is another fail in your part. Don't you guys do your physical fitness tests on bikes? At least this guy has the right mindset in thinking about the welfare of his military buddies. Todays media only seems to be concerned with how lindsey lohan is doing or who is dyeing their dog pink. Guys are dying everyday in iraq and I dont see anyone else bring that up.

        April 11, 2012 at 4:17 am |
  75. Joe

    The north Koreans and their little gook leader should all be exterminated.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:12 am | Reply
  76. Joe

    The north koreans should direct their rocket to be launched at this radar.

    March 29, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Reply
    • Francis

      USA is just executing its duty as the world's policeman, so what's wrong of them sending this superb equipment near North Korea? Have we forgotten how the last world war started? It's due to certain country's greed & ambition that cause the world not to enjoy peaceful time. North Korea has just changed leadership some months ago & such irritable thing is going to happen. This communist country is plain selfish in spending tonnes of its money in weapons while witnessing its nationals suffering in starvation. Yet, its people "glorified" its leaders like God. Let us live in peace. War will not bring majority of us any good.

      March 30, 2012 at 12:14 am | Reply
      • paul

        Its time the west stop giving aid to countries that spend money on their military instead of on the people and then expect handouts for their people..The US were going to give food to North Korea so they would stop their nuclear ambitions, well time to stop... China should supply North Korea with food since their meant to be their ally, they should look after their rogue states... and the west look after responsible states...

        March 30, 2012 at 1:04 am |
      • make_it_rain1985

        Paul, for one, you're a fool to think that China hasnt already helped to supply the people of North Korea with weapons, ammunition and food to help them to survive for a year or so. If we are talking of WAR with north korea then id have to say that the HUGE chinese military wouldnt fight us in a ground battle as we would north korea. This war would be held as an air battle for quite some time until America could gain that foothold back in South Korea and have the ability to push north and then the entire Country of korea would once again be a whole instead of being influenced by an ignorant north korean. If you arent submissive to The United States of America then youre done.....point blank period. We, as a country have the most lethal and dominate force in the entire world.

        March 30, 2012 at 2:10 am |
    • wasso

      Then that baby will skadoodle to the Persian Gulf !

      March 30, 2012 at 1:12 am | Reply
    • toadears

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      March 30, 2012 at 2:19 am | Reply
  77. Julian Assange

    This is CRAP!
    Americans waste a lot of money playing those useless cat and mouse games.
    Why are Americans afraid of NKorea?
    If left to their own devices the Koreas would have reunited long ago, American influence in the region, in fact in the world is evil and ralely welcome.
    No wonder most extremists of this planes enthusiasticaly dispute a chance to blow them up to hell.

    March 29, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Reply
    • Cheese Wonton

      That is an uninformed comment. China will never permit a unified western oriented, democratic, capitalist and unified Korea on it'd border. To do so would repudiate decades of propaganda to their own people attempting to justify their own one party tyranny. Only a Korea unified under a single Communist dictatorship would pass muster in Beijing. I guess that would make you happy too? What a worthless coward you are.

      March 30, 2012 at 12:41 am | Reply
      • paul

        I disagree Julian assange comment isnt cowardly it is moronic... Only a moron would post comments like his...

        If left to their own devices the Koreas would have reunited long ago, American influence in the region, in fact in the world is evil and ralely welcome.

        It is a fact the UN forces would have beaten North Korea if not for China supporting the north and if the UN forces pulled out it would have been china supporting North Korea to take over the whole of Korea under the North Koreans and would not have been left to the koreans to reunify it would have been the North and CHina against the south...

        March 30, 2012 at 1:17 am |
      • make_it_rain1985

        UN forces would have beaten North Korea? Since when has the UN ever beaten anyone? PAUL...Thats my question for you.

        March 30, 2012 at 2:15 am |
      • desert voice (troubledgoodangel or Nathanael or Bohdan or Voiceinthedesert)

        You got a good point there. When push comes to shove, as now in Syria, China will do exactly what Russia did: she will say nyet (in Chinese). For China, North Korea is what Syria is for Russia, only ten times over!

        March 30, 2012 at 5:54 am |
    • bronorman

      That may be so, but my country the Philippines will be helpless without it. In 2004 my country's leaders defaulted on IMF payments and loaned heavily from Red China. We've been sold. The balikatan secrets may have been compromised with Representative Singson's incarceration in Hong Kong for drug dealing. He was just the son of President Arroyo's national security adviser. If the Philippines was so insignificant, the US wouldn't care.

      March 30, 2012 at 9:39 am | Reply

    so why don;t they just put a target on this glob of BAIT . This thing is BAIT. i am not a fan of obama foreign policy , but with that said I think some not so clever mind thought he would get two birds with one stone .


    March 29, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Reply
    • Johnny D

      Why not just blast the missile out of the sky with a Patriot missile? Send the N Koreans a message, every time they launch, we will shoot them down over their country.

      March 29, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Reply
      • Cheese Wonton

        Patriot doesn't have the speed or range. You would need to get it in the boost phase with a ship launched Standard SM-3 or maybe a THAAD battery in South Korea, if THAAD is deployed there yet.

        March 30, 2012 at 12:44 am |
      • toadears

        NO! If you aren't willing to put your own life on the line or your child's life on the line, don't talk about others shooting missiles. It is hypocrisy and the height of cowardice.

        March 30, 2012 at 2:22 am |

      AFTER THOUGHT , it will be an unmaned fishing boat that hits this thing in bad weather I bet which will result in a big kaboom. WHAT JOKE ! what are those things flying around above earth that the GPS works off of are CALLED ?
      and we are going to rely on this thing . something must be wrong with those things above earth if we have to resort to this . PURE BAIT ,, me and the guys had a good laugh , and we cannot believe this wisdom .

      they should have saved the money and hired the kids with the weather baloon and a camera .

      March 29, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Reply
      • Cheese Wonton

        Satellites fly by but do not have persistence in one location. They might be able to tell you something launched and provide a rough location. You need very large surface based radars to track missiles precisely in flight.

        March 30, 2012 at 12:54 am |
  79. muhron

    Dayam. That thing looks like an oil platform.

    March 29, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Reply
    • Cheese Wonton

      Yep. It was originally supposed to be a drilling rig named Moss Sirius for a company called Moss Maritime. Kind of clever I think, much more stable than a conventional ship.

      March 30, 2012 at 12:49 am | Reply
    • cas

      God this country is so funny...we are advertising a 390 foot long 280 foot high TARGET...ha...and we are telling the world where it is and where its going. The NK probably is saying "Silly americans, thanks for alerting us we now have the target locked on in route. Thank yu so much!"

      March 30, 2012 at 10:24 am | Reply
      • martin

        you really dont know our military do you? Do you really think anything can touch that thing, no! Satellites track anything that comes close to anything military, and will blow them up. Which is why the US is the most lethal force in the world. 2nd of all, N. Korean technology cannot even launch a missle, remember the last one? Flew a few miles and crashed in the sea. Some of the people on here that post are really ignorant.

        March 30, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  80. enkephalin07

    It's gunship one-upmanship; we're just flashing each other our war technology.

    March 29, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Reply
  81. sureshot

    looks like a big target for north koreans midget subs to take out!!!!!

    March 29, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  82. AlexShch

    Curiously enough, the floating platform for this radar is built by Russia originally as a floating oil rig.

    March 29, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Reply
    • Fred

      Wonder where the Russians planted the explosives they will detonate if this thing becomes a problem for them. lol

      March 29, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Reply
      • Cheese Wonton

        It was converted to it's current use at two different yards in Texas. I don't think there is any way to hide explosives from the yard workers, but funny, ha, ha.

        March 30, 2012 at 12:51 am |
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