The United States Department of Defense have awarded a $118.4 million contract to Gilbane Federal for the construction of a new long-range over-the-horizon radar system that will be built in Palau.

According to the announcement of the US Department of Defense on Dec. 28, Gilbane Federal from California is awarded a total of $118,368,220 “for the construction of reinforced concrete pads and foundations in support of the installation of the Tactical Mobile Over-the-Horizon Radar equipment in the Republic of Palau.”

The work, according to the announcements expected to be completed by June 2026.

The radar system called Tactical Mobile Over-the-Horizon Radar, or TACMOR is expected to beef up the defense capabilities in the Western Pacific which is a strategic region in light of the increased interests of China in the Pacific.

The Defense Department started discussion over the radar with Palau since 2017.

During the discussion in 2017, the radar systems is said to assist in monitoring air and maritime traffic and possibly tracking North Korean missiles. The systems would include a series of radar towers on the Palau archipelago, which includes more than 300 islands.

Rear Admiral Benjamin Nicholson, the Joint Region Marianas commander told local reporters last year that the installation will also infuse monies to the Palau economy. 

The admiral said the installation of the radar system will benefit the local economy and local construction companies.

The radar systems will provide Palau with enhanced maritime law enforcement capability in its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone. 

Nicholson said that he sees the relationship of Palau and the US military further advance and reiterated the nation’s importance in a “free and open” Info-Pacific region. 

“What I think that you’ve experienced here over the last several years is increasing military, US military exercises, and operations in the area. And that is for a number of different reasons. But one is we are really concentrating our efforts on the Pacific region,” he said.

Nicholson also said the US military presence in the region is a deterrent to “nefarious actors” in the Pacific. 

“We realize how strategically important Palau is ensuring a free and open Indo Pacific region. There are other nefarious actors that sometimes come into this area. And our presence here helps to thwart that to some degree,”

 The United States is responsible for Palau’s defense under the Compact of Free Association

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