October 31, 2004
The United States and Australia have successfully conducted trials with the Jindalee Over-the-horizon Radar Network (JORN), to demonstrate its use in tracking ballistic missile flights across the Pacific. The tests were designed to demonstrate JORN's ability to detect missile launches and to track missiles in the early boost phase. Such data would be used to more quickly and accurately intercept missiles directed at the United States or its allies. The tests and further development of JORN are part of on-going US-Australia joint Ballistic Missile Defense research.
The JORN radar system is a large radar system that watches around 20 million square kilometers over Australia and the northern maritime approaches. Depending on atmospheric conditions, the radar can detect aircraft and surface vessels at ranges from 1,000 to 3,000 kilometers. Going operational in April 2003, JORN is undergoing a $44 million upgrade to increase the sensitivity of its radars and improve the ability to detect smaller targets, such as cruise missiles and stealth aircraft. In 1997, the prototype JORN system demonstrated the ability to detect and monitor missile launches by Chinese off the cost of Taiwan, and to pass that information onto U.S. Navy commanders. JORN should be able to monitor launches from China and North Korea and provide data into U.S. ground and sea-based ballistic missile defense systems.
More testing will take place by the end of the year, including the ability to automatically detect and track missile launches and to be able to "fuse" JORN data with information collected by other sensors and platforms. The Royal Australian Navy is in the process of building three Air Warfare Destroyers (AWDs) that will integrate the U.S. Aegis's air defense radar, with the first ship to come on line in 2013. Aegis would give Australia a rudimentary sea-based capability to intercept missiles at ranges "in excess" of 160 kilometers. Doug Mohney