The United States plans to install radar systems in Palau will proceed “full steam” in 2019, according to Vice President and Minister of Justice Raynold Oilouch.

Oilouch said that despite the minor delays in the installation, Palau expects to finalize the agreement by January of 2019.

The radar systems will provide Palau enhanced maritime law enforcement capability and provides the US with greater air domain awareness for aviation safety and security.

“The radar project is going ahead full steam.  In the first month of 2019, January, we will be finalizing and executing the necessary agreements pertaining to the properties to be issued for the radar project,” Oilouch told reporters in a press conference, Wednesday.

Oilouch said by 2019, the installation would proceed as scheduled.

The radar is seen as a move to increase monitoring ability in the western Pacific region which last year was a subject of  threats from North Korea. There is also a growing influence from China in the region, which the U.S. wants to counter.

Palau and U.S. has identified Ngaraard and Angaur States as the location for the aerial domain awareness (ADA) radar stations.

The sites identified for Marine Awareness Domain (MDA) are Kayangel, Ngardmau, Angaur, Sonsorol and Helen Reef.

Palau is obligated to provide lands to the US for defense and security purposes, under the Compcat agreement.

Palau President  Tommy Remengesau Jr. last year said the radar installation is mutually beneficial to the U.S. and Palau. He also said it is important to the protection and stability in the region.

Remengesau said it would also increase Palau’s capability to catch incursion in its waters amid the transition period to close 80 percent of its EEZ to commercial fishing.

Palau and United States officials of the two countries met  to discuss the proposed radar installations.   (Bernadette H. Carreon)