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Pentagon to deploy eight additional interceptor missiles in Alaska

By
Elizabeth Shim
The Pentagon plans to update its sea-based X-band radar to deter North Korea as part of its plan to strengthen homeland defense. File Photo courtesy of U.S. Missile Defense Agency
The Pentagon plans to update its sea-based X-band radar to deter North Korea as part of its plan to strengthen homeland defense. File Photo courtesy of U.S. Missile Defense Agency

May 24 (UPI) -- The Pentagon plans to deploy eight additional ground-based interceptor missiles at Fort Greely, Alaska, according to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.

Japanese television network NHK reported Tuesday the U.S. military is adding eight more missile defense systems and "updating" its sea-based X-band radar to deter against North Korean threats.

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The SB-X is the world's largest and most powerful phased array X-band radar in the world, and is housed inside a dome that resembles a giant golf ball.

The system's electric thrusters can propel the radar to be positioned in any location in the Pacific Ocean, according to the Missile Defense Agency.

A total of 44 ground-based interceptor missiles are to be deployed to Alaska to "improve protection against North Korean and potential Iranian [intercontinental ballistic missile] threats as they emerge," the MDA states.

An X-band radar deployed to Japan will also receive an upgrade so as to improve the system's ballistic missile tracking capabilities.

North Korea has claimed its midrange missiles, like the recently test-launched Hwasong-12, can target U.S. assets in Guam and Japan.

An X-band radar currently deployed in the Pacific for 120 days per year will be upgraded so it is operational year-round.

The report comes after the U.S. House Armed Services Committee called for a $2.1 billion increase in military spending in the Pacific, due in part to the potential North Korean threat.

About $1 billion is being allocated to munitions and another $1 billion for missile defense, including Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD.

THAAD is already operational in central South Korea.

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