Pacific Missile Range Facility – Kauai
The Garden Island of Kauai plays an important role in the nation’s missile defense. Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands (PMRF), located on the island’s west side, is the world’s largest instrumented multi-environmental range capable of supported surface, subsurface, air, and space operations simultaneously. The military has conducted a variety of missile defense tests at PMRF since the 2000s. There are over 1,100 square miles of instrumented underwater range and over 42,000 square miles of controlled airspace. In addition to missile defense, the facility supports training operations, which vary from small, single-unit exercises up to largescale, multiple-unit battle group scenarios.
PMRF is currently the third-largest employer on Kauai with nearly 1,000 personnel, including defense personnel and civilian contractors. Defense spending has infused roughly $80-100M annually into Kauai County, home to PMRF, primarily through the Department of the Navy, which operates PMRF. The secluded island of Niihau, with a population of less than 200, located 17 miles off the coast of Kauai, is also benefitting from contracts with the defense industry. Niihau Ranch LLC provides facility support to PMRF with contracts valued at roughly $1M annually.
The range of services covered by defense contracts has supported many industries, including facility support, construction, and research and development. These industries are creating jobs that go beyond the mainstay of tourism, providing island residents with greater opportunities and a more diverse economy. Defense spending also provides Hawaii students the opportunity to go into a new, exciting field that can offer high paying jobs and the opportunity to remain home in the islands.
PMRF, originally named Mana Airport, was established by the Army in 1940 and was transferred to the Navy in 1957. The base expanded during World War II and the Cold War years, growing into a missile defense testing facility and even establishing a meteorological mission and installing an antenna mast for NASA. The Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex (AAMDTC) at the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii, is a test and evaluation center used in the development of Aegis Ashore. Part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System, Aegis Ashore is a land-based missile defense system designed to defeat short- to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats. The MDA, which is the research, development and acquisition agency within the Department of Defense that develops and tests the nation’s missile defense programs, has conducted testing of the Aegis Ashore system at PMRF since 2002. PMRF’s system, which was established only for testing, will help ensure the success of Aegis’ Ashore operational systems deployed in Romania and under development in Poland and Japan.
Opportunity and Vigilance
While concern has been growing about North Korea’s ballistic missile threat, the MDA is continually researching, developing and testing various missile defense mechanisms to ensure the safety of Hawaii and the U.S. mainland. Kauai will continue to be a key player in ensuring our nation’s safety, which will mean continued investment in the island for research and development, job opportunities and a diversified economy.
Manu Kai, LLC
Manu Kai, LLC has a long history of providing base and range operations support services for the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on the island of Kauai. Manu Kai is a Native Hawaiian and minority owned small business that was founded in 2006. Manu Kai operates as a subsidiary of Harris Corporation and Ke`aki Technologies, LLC and is based in Honolulu.