Aerospace and National Defense

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) continues to pursue a research, development, test and evaluation program for the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). In order to allow for more testing of the BMDS, including the Ground-Based Mid-Course Defense (GMD) element, the MDA developed and constructed a Test Bed.

On Shemya Island, near the tip of the Aleutians Chain, the existing Cobra Dane radar is being upgraded in order to support flight tests and monitor potential enemy missile launches. Additional work is planned for the Kodiak Launch Complex to allow for target launches. MDA is evaluating the environmental impacts of all this work in accordance with existing laws and regulations.

The Alaska Aerospace Corporation (AAC) continues development and operation of the Kodiak Launch Complex. AAC maintains a staff of ten in its Anchorage office and seven on-site in Kodiak. The direct economic impact for each launch is estimated at more than $4 million, based on analysis of previous launches. In March of 2012, aerospace giant Lockheed Martin Corp. announced the Kodiak Launch Complex as its dedicated West Coast facility for Athena rocket launches. Construction is currently underway to upgrade the facility for heavier launches, and as many as 10 missions are possible between 2014 and 2016. That means an influx of around 40 workers to Kodiak per mission -- a mix of outside groups experienced in building launch pads and local construction contractors -- and a possible market for specialized parts and materials that would likely be centered in Anchorage. Click here for a report on the economic benefits of the ACC, prepared in February 2011.

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The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced in August 2003 that it had selected Adak as the Primary Support Base (PSB) for the Sea-Based X-Band (SBX) radar. The PSB includes a mooring site and minimum logistics support for the SBX.

The SBX vessel, a self-propelled semi-submersible modified oil-drilling platform, will be modified and payloads installed at shipyards in Texas. It was scheduled to support GMD operations in 2005. The SBX will provide detailed ballistic missile tracking information to the GMD system, as well as advanced target and countermeasures discrimination capability for the GMD interceptor missiles. Sea trials will be conducted in the Gulf of Mexico before moving the platform to Adak.