New radar in Vardo makes Norway bomb target


The Have Stare radar according to American experts could have a potential role in an operational missile defense, providing mid-course discrimination of ballistic missiles launched from rogue states like Iraq or Iran against targets in the United States, the newspaper Bergens Tidende reported.

The Have Stare radar, to move to Norway by year 2000, is part of the US Air Force SPACETRACK program. The program says the radar will be deployed as a dedicated space surveillance sensor to support the mission of space object catalog maintenance and adds : «HS will retain its original design features and their inherent potential to support other missions».

One of the «other missions» could be National Missile Defense. Under subtitle «Upgraded Early Warning Radars» the NMD/FY 98 program : «If needed other existing forward based radars (such as COBRA DANE or HAVE STARE) could also be used to support». Have Stare also is listed as a candidate sensor in the Ballistic Missile Defense Glossary.

Adjunct radar

- I interpret the BMDO comment to mean that both Cobra Dane and Have Stare would and could be used as «adjunct» radar to obtain high resolution data on warheads that accompanied by decoys, said Ted Postol, professor of science, technology and national security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

USA early warning radars according to Postol have very poor range resolution of about 5 to 10 metres which is not adequate to discriminate between warheads and the simplest decoys. Have Stare has a potential quite good range resolution of roughly 10 to 15 centimeters and is a useful aid in discrimination.

- The reason Vardo might be an attractive site for a mid-course discrimination radar is that it lies under or near to the trajectories to major US cities from many of the current bad countries likeIran, Iraq and maybe China. An easy way to sea this is to get a world globe and stretch a string over it between possible launch sites and targets, said defense commentator Allen Thomson.

The fragility of the NMD architecture here would present a problem from a Norwegian perspective : - If a crucial NMD function like a mid-course discrimination radar is located in Norway, and Norway has no antiballistic missile defense, then that function is the logical target for the first missile. After that the rest can go on to the US, said Thomson.

In his opinion Have Stare probably isn't part of the baseline NMD architecture, but have the tecnical capability and geographical location to be used in NMD if an unforseen need should arise. The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization probably plan to develop operational radars using data and experience obtained from HS. If a surprise materialize then Have Stare - and Cobra Dane - could be used as interim sensors until the operational versions could be built.

Russian launches

- Probably the only plausible mission for this radar in a NMD would be to provide accurate information about boost-phase portion of SLBM launched from Barents Sea or from Russian ports, said Pavel Podvig, senior researcher at the Centre for Arms Control, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.

- It's hard to tell whether this kind of information would be useful or important for a missile defense. I don't think it would be crucial for missile defense operations. Other tiers such

as SBIRS sensors that are supposed to provide decoy discrimination during midcourse flight could probably use such information for better cueing. At the same time, these same sensors could use information supplied by DSP early warning satellites, which should be of a good enough quality, added Podvig.

- Certainly Have Stare could be integrated into the NMD network to provide early warning of SLBM launches from Russian ports or the Barents Sea. If this is the purpose of moving the radar to Norway it is a clear violation of the ABM treaty, but it would be require a major effort on the Russian side to prove that this is the case and I don't think Russia would be willing or able to undertake such an effort, said Podvig.

Looking for loopholes

- This appears to be another case of «looking for loopholes», said Matthew Bunn, assistant director of the Science, Technology and Public Policy Program at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Bunn in 1990 published a book on the ABM treaty and the interpretation issues surrounding various compliance problems. He stresses that he knows nothing about the Have Stare radar in particular, but only knows what has been presented to him for comment by the newspaper.

The ABM treaty signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1972 to limit the development of antiballistic missile defenses permits the deployment of space tracking radars. - Unfortunately the space-tracking loophole is a fairly broad one. In principle these radars can be deployed anywhere and there are no limits on their capabilities other than those implied by the ban on deploying «a base for a nationwide defense».

- The cited language in NMD documents saying that the radar could be used to support a national missile defense could certainly be used to question the legality of the deployment to Norway. But unless Russia itself presses the issue vigorously or the Norwegian government becomes concerned, the US government is certain to simply blow off such arguments by citing the space tracking exemption, said Matthew Bunn.

- No link to missile defense

- The Have Stare radar in its present configuration will not be used to transfer data in «real time». The radar therefore cannot fill a function in missile defense and also is not technically equipped for early warning of Russian SLBM or ICBM launches, said Runar Todok, political advisor in the Norwegian Department of Defense.

- The quotes from the NMD documents could mean that the radar has an inherent potential for missile defense functions. In that case the radar has to set up in a different way than we will do. We have got no information about a missile defense link-up in conversations about the radar's functions and as far as I know the Americans neither have expressed any wish that the radar should have warning capacity, said Todok.

Todok stressed that the Globus II radar, Have Stare's Norwegian name, have two main functions. - The first purpose is space object tracking which will be carried out in cooperation with the Americans. In addition Globus II will have Norwegian national intelligence functions. The radar is a normal update of the monitoring of missile activities in the North that Norway has carried out for many years using the existing Globus I radar, said Todok.