18 Oct 2010

US's remote missile testing poses economic concerns for Marshall Islands

8:10 pm on 18 October 2010

A 100 million US dollar communications cable has revolutionised the U.S. Army's Kwajalein missile testing facility in the Marshall Islands, allowing it to be operated remotely from the U.S. mainland.

The Reagan Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll has been the centre of U.S. missile defence research and development for nearly 50 years.

But in recent years, other test ranges and a shift to open ocean missile testing has reduced the U.S. use of Kwajalein.

Our correspondent in Majuro, Giff Johnson, says the new submarine fibre optic cable allows missile experiments to be run from the Army's Space and Missile Defense Command headquarters in Alabama.

"It's gone through its testing phase, and now the army is beginning about a one year process of shifting its missile and space defense work over from satellites to this underwater cable which is going to exponentially increase the speed and amount of data that can be transferred from the missile range back to the United States and the net result of this is that many of the operations of Kwajalein will soon be controlled out of Huntsville Alabama."

Our correspondent in Majuro, Giff Johnson.