A floating platform holding the Missile Defense Agency’s sea-based X-band radar system will be moored on Adak, Alaska.

The $900 million radar installation is part of the agency’s ground-based midcourse defense system, designed to intercept and destroy long-range ballistic missiles headed for the United States.

“We looked at six locations and it was decided to use Adak since it is the site of the old Adak Naval Base,” spokesman Rick Lehner said Tuesday during a telephone interview from the agency’s Virginia headquarters.

Everett, Wash.; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Valdez, Alaska; Port Hueneme, Calif.; and the Marshall Islands also were considered.

The platform is expected at Adak, in the western Aleutian Islands, by the end of 2005, Lehner said.

It will provide detailed ballistic missile tracking information to the defense system, and target and countermeasure discrimination capability for interceptor missiles, according to an agency news release.

Adak Naval Base, which closed in 1996, was chosen because it has infrastructure that once supported 6,000 people, Lehner said.

“It has a 7,900-foot runway, fuel storage and housing,” he said.

Lt. Gen. Ronald T. Kadish, the Missile Defense Agency director, announced the selection of Adak — 1,300 miles west of Anchorage — last week following the review of an environmental study.

Adak is ideal for several reasons, Lehner said.

“Being so far west and north, you want to try to engage the hostile missile as far away as possible, so the more time to have to do that the better,” he said.

The X-band radar system, developed by Raytheon, will be mounted on a modified oil platform built by Moss Shipbuilding in Sandfiord, Norway, Lehner said. The self-propelled, semi-submersible vessel displaces 50,000 tons and is 390 feet long and 250 high.

The rig was delivered to Brownsville, Texas, this past spring, he said.

Beginning in October, the platform will be modified there and at Corpus Christi, Texas.

Lehner said about 50 people will man the platform — 30 of them military or civilian radar personnel and the remaining 20 crewmembers for rig operation.

Another 30 to 40 people will be stationed at Adak for maintenance.

“It will concurrently be tested and used operationally. That’s the advantage of being able to move the radar around, so we can test different [incoming] trajectories,” he said.

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