Radar systems monitor 'rogue regimes' By Teri Weaver, Stars and Stripes Pacific edition, Sunday, October 7, 2007 [EXCERPTS]
The AN/TPY-2 radar system at the Shariki Communications Site is part of an early-warning detection network around the globe - in Alaska, California, the United Kingdom, the Marshall Islands and aboard U.S. Navy ships.
Shariki's radar sits on the edge of the communications site. It appears almost understated, painted a shade darker than the obligatory beige that covers so many Army bases.
The AN/TPY-2 is a three-part device that looks and sounds like three industrial-sized generators running at full speed. Each part serves respectively as the system's heart, brains and face, said Capt. Will Hunter, the Army commander at Shariki. It's the face, a smooth slab pointing due west through a small gap of trees, that tracks enemy missile launches.
The face's radio frequencies beam out like a fan to track rising missiles. If needed, the system could read the entire horizon. But to strengthen its efficacy, and to conserve power, it searches targeted sections of the sky, Hunter says.
When asked if the radar tracked North Korea's launches last July, Hunter pauses.
"We received some data last summer," he says.
At Shariki, Hunter and others know when something is in the sky. But they aren't necessarily the first to know. As Shariki's radar tracks missiles, data transfers instantly to round-the-clock watchers in Tokyo, Colorado, Hawaii and elsewhere, Hunter says.
"It operates at echelons way above Capt. Hunter," he says. "By the time they've called me and got me out of bed, the people who are actually running the fight at that level would already know what's going on and probably already be planning their responses. I'm more of just a caretaker of a system."