02 March 2005

SBX off Labrador? More background info

Yesterday, I raised the prospect that the United States might opt to place some its ballistic missile defence assets at sea off Labrador rather than try and locate them at Goose Bay. The more I think of it, the more I realize this is a viable option.

Those who read David Pugliese's story in yesterday's Ottawa Citizen know that he didn't say the x band radar at Goose Bay was a dead project; he said it was wounded.

I am just speculating on another scenario in which the Americans build another sea-based radar like the one they plan to position off Alaska. They could locate it close to the Canadian territorial sea or, if the sea conditions and weather permit, they could put it beyond the 200 mile exclusive economic zone. Either way they get the radar they need and it is beyond Canadian jurisdiction.

Following are some links to more information:

1. Global Security. Very similar to the Federation of American Scientists site, Global Security has a comprehensive page on the sea-based x band (SBX) radar project right down to contract numbers. Prime contractor on the project has been Boeing. Raytheon is developing the radar system. The whole project involves the adaptation of a CS-50 type semi-submersible rig. Working on the project are Kavaerner and Kiewit, companies well-known in the local offshore industry.

2. Missilethreat.com. A provocative name, but this site has some simple background information, some good cross links and a set of references to other sites and published articles.

3. Hull construction. Over at the BMDS Integration Data Center they have a series of photographs of the platform under construction in the Vyborg shipyard near St. Petersburg.

4. Raytheon. The radar company has an excellent site listing its products as well as a nice computer generated image of the SBX system.

5. Prowl the Aker Kavaerner site to see if there are any more subcontracts like this one supporting the SBX.

6. Ditto for this site listing the award of a US$73 million contract to modify the platform.

7. Here's a site for MOSS, listing some alternative uses for their platforms. The SBX is mounted on a CS-50 type platform, as noted earlier, a rig base that has been in use for decades. This company, along with Boeing, Energia and Kavaerner is also exploring the idea of using a rig as a mobile platform for launching payloads into orbit.

8. You can find the website for Russian shipyard Vyborg here, in Cyrillic of course. This is the yard that built the platform being used to mount the SBX. Topsides work, including installation of the radar system was undertaken around Corpus Christi, Texas.

Take a close look at this site though; it has bags of information on the yard and its operations. The site is in Russian but Cyrillic is not that hard to read, once you get used to it. Try using a simple table of comparison like this one if you get into trouble.

Ya strudom gavaryu pa russki. And my Cyrillic to Latin transliteration likely has problems too.