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Group says North Korean test justifies Hawaii missile defense system


    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, center, hosted a trilateral meeting with chief of staff of the Japanese Self-Defense Force, Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, left, U.S. Pacific Command Commander Adm. Harry B. Harris and Gen. Sun-Jin Lee, chairman of the Republic of Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff, via video teleconference at Pacific Command headquarters.

North Korea’s long-range ballistic missile test “marks a tipping point” and justification for greater U.S. defenses, with proposals for round-the-clock missile shoot-down capability on Kauai, a long-range radar in Hawaii, and increased deployment time for the Sea-Based X-Band Radar, the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance said.

Saturday’s launch “proved out validation of development on (North Korea’s) reliability in propulsion, staging and aerospace system engineering that will enhance their strategic ballistic missile force,” the nonprofit organization said today.

The North said it put an Earth observation satellite into orbit, but experts countered it was a missile test.

Japan deployed Aegis ballistic missile defense ships in the East China Sea capable of shooting down the missile, and had Patriot defense units deployed for defense against falling debris, MDAA said.

The United States also had Aegis ships in the East China Sea and Patriot batteries deployed in Okinawa. Some of the 30 ground-based interceptor missiles in California and Alaska were “in readiness” along with two radars in Japan, the Sea-Based X-Band floating radar, additional Aegis ships in the Pacific, and a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery in Guam, according to MDAA.

The “increased justification and need for missile defense has resulted in a path forward” for a South Korean request for THAAD, despite Chinese and Russian objections, the organization said.

Defenses “that are being seriously thought through” include operating the Aegis Ashore test facility around the clock on Kauai for the protection of Hawaii, installing a long-range radar in Hawaii, adding an Army Air Defense brigade headquarters in the Pacific, and increasing deployment time for the SBX radar based in Hawaii, MDAA said.

Ballistic missile defense program spending totals $8.5 billion in the proposed 2017 budget. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency wants $1 billion of that to increase ground-based interceptors from 30 to 44.

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff met in Hawaii Wednesday with South Korean and Japanese chiefs of defense and Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., head of U.S. Pacific Command, to discuss the increasing North Korean nuclear and missile threats.

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