Pentagon reporters pressed Department of Defense spokesman George Little yesterday about thedeployment of several Navy assets in the Pacific. He received especially hard questioning about the movements of the sea-based X-Band radar, called "the Golf Ball" by some.
Sea-based X-Band radar (SBX-1)
The sea-based X-Band radar is operated by the Military Sealift Command and crewed by civilian seamen and contractors. It resembles a huge, white golf ball sitting on a six-legged platform over the ocean.
The platform has similar characteristics to ocean drilling platforms. Raytheon, prime contractor for the system, describes the SBX-1 mission as intended "to provide radar coverage for possible threat missile launches throughout the world." With a speed of around nine knots, travel time to Japan is about 16 days.
Little, in yesterday's news conference, repeatedly said that "The SBX is undergoing scheduled sea trials." It is believed to have sailed from Hawaii last week.
Vessel length: 116 meters (380 ft) Vessel height: 85 meters (280 ft) from keel to top of radar dome Vessel draft: approximately 10 meters (32 ft. 9 in.) when in motion or otherwise not on station; approximately 30 meters (98 ft. 5 in.) when on station Vessel stability: remains within 10 degrees of horizontal on station (fully passive stabilization) Cost: $900 million Crew: Approximately 75-85 members, mostly civilian contractors Radar range: 2,000 km (1,242 mi.) Displacement: 50,000 tons