Recently, there was an extensive (and controversial) article highlighting the “adaptive optics” capabilities of the TMT.
Some simple research does turn up an obvious military connection.
The recent flyby of Pluto involved the use of adaptive optics. The technology creates a star map that can then be used to pinpoint the location of objects moving through the star field. Google “adaptive optics and Pluto” for articles about this recent use of the technology.
The same adaptive optics mapping can provide the military with precise locations of satellites orbiting the Earth. That information can be used to target those satellites should hostilities arise. Google “adaptive optics and satellite targeting.”
With this information available on the Internet, it seems kind of silly for the TMT folks to deny the military purpose of the TMT.
Part of the problem with such denials is that they are playing to an akamai (astute) audience. The opposition to the Superferry stemmed, in part, from the belief that the Superferry was actually a military project. Eventually, the truth did emerge that the Superferry was a prototype being tested as a prelude to a major military contract for similar boats. So for TMT, the old adage “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” has already kicked in to create a skeptical audience.
Of course, it is understandable why the TMT staff would pretend that there was no military connection. If the TMT is part of the United States war making capabilities, then Mauna Kea becomes a target should conflict break out.
With our islands already within range of North Korea’s missiles and all the other United States military installations here making Hawai’i a prime target, we hardly need the most advanced satellite targeting system to raise our profile in times of conflict.
Opening up that discussion would only lead to more demands for restoration of the Kingdom of Hawai’i as a non-aligned nation within the community of nations.
So the TMT pretends to be a totally benign tourist adventure for astronomers. Good luck with that.