What if the false missile alarm had been the real deal?
We've questioned whether the city is ready, the state is ready, and the people are ready.
Tonight's Civil Beat segment takes a new angle, is our missile defense system ready?
Paula Akana: Nick let's start with one basic, a quick explanation of what's in place right now..
Nick Grube: Hawaii's missile defense relies on a simple, but technically complicated concept: shooting a bullet with a bullet. If a missile were coming our way a sea-based radar — known as the floating golf ball — would pick up its location and then ground-based interceptor missiles located in Alaska and California would try to shoot it down.
Paula Akana: What's the confidence level of this system?
Nick Grube: Military officials, including Admiral Harry Harris of U.S. Pacific Command, are confident the system would work. But test results from the Missile Defense Agency show it's been effective 55 percent of the time, although some say the technology has improved over the years.
Paula Akana: There are other ideas being floated around...?
Nick Grube: There are a few ideas to increase Hawaii's defense capabilities. One that's in the works now will bring a new radar to the islands that will help better detect an incoming missile and improve the precision of the interceptors. And then some folks would like to see Hawaii have its own interceptors, although not everyone agrees that's the best idea.
Paula Akana: And then there's Barking Sands, which you say seems to be off the table right now...
Nick Grube: That's right. There's been a lot of talk about operationalized the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, which currently has an Aegis Ashore missile defense system that's used for testing. But there's concerns among some, including members of Hawaii's congressional delegation, that making the PMRF operational would detract from its mission of training, research and development for the future.
Paula Akana: Bottom line, a good defense could be the key to deterring any offense. Nick Grube from Civil Beat, thanks!