3rd missile interceptor field for Fort Greely The Associated Press Posted : Wednesday Feb 7, 2007 17:50:35 EST FAIRBANKS, Alaska â The military is adding a third missile interceptor field to Fort Greely as part of an expansion of the nationâs anti-ballistic missile program. The agency has 13 missile interceptors on two fields at Fort Greely, a base about 100 miles south of Fairbanks, and expects to add another missile by the end of the month, according to spokesman Rick Lehner in Washington, D.C. Plans call for 21 interceptors in silos by the end of the year. The additional interceptors will arrive sooner than previously planned, according to a summary of the proposed fiscal year 2008 budget released Monday by the Missile Defense Agency. By the end of 2008, the agency expects to have up to 30 interceptors in the ground, including those at Fort Greely and several at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Building the third missile field at Fort Greely will âmaximize our operational flexibilityâ and accelerate the delivery of new interceptors, the budget documents state. The two fields at Fort Greely can host 20 interceptors each. The third field is needed to provide enough working space to install more interceptors without impeding other operations, according to Lt. Col. Hunt Kerrigan, spokesman for MDA in Alaska. The new missile field at Fort Greely was one of three major changes made in the âground-based, midcourseâ section of the national missile defense program since the budget proposal last year went to Congress. The Missile Defense Agency also decided to drop Lockheed Martinâs interceptor booster rockets in favor of those manufactured by Orbital Sciences. In addition, the agency decided to add three more interceptor silos to the two existing silos at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Of the three new Vandenberg silos, two would hold interceptors ready for action and the other would be used for tests. The interceptors at Fort Greely and Vandenberg are intended to shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles in the middle of their trajectory, outside the Earthâs atmosphere. The midcourse part of the system would receive about $2.5 billion of the $8.89 billion in total missile defense spending proposed in the Bush administrationâs 2008 budget. The total funding, if Congress approves it, would be a decrease from the current yearâs $9.43 billion. However, the agency projected that budgets will rise in each of the coming six years. The total six-year plan will cost more than $50 billion, it estimated. The Missile Defense Agency has been simultaneously building and testing the âballistic missile defense system,â an approach criticized as hasty and unwise by some interest groups and members of Congress. The agency said it has made progress with its approach, despite âreal-worldâ challenges. âOur innovative acquisition strategy â fielding an operational capability while continuing to develop and improve it â was put to the test in the summer of 2006 when we placed BMDS on alert in response to a credible ballistic missile threat from North Korea,â the agency said in the introduction to its 2008 budget. North Korea launched several missiles July 4. The only long-range missile among them, a Taepodong 2, disappeared less than a minute after taking flight. Another Alaska component in the system is the sea-based X-band radar. Its home port will be Adak in the Aleutian Islands. The radar, mounted on an oil drilling platform, has spent much of the year based in Hawaii but will soon begin a cold weather shakedown off Adak, the agency said. The agency budget also calls for an upgrade several years from now of the early warning radar at Clear Air Force Station south of Nenana.