Pentagon Missile Defense: A '$244 Million Baby Step'?

Elias Hubbard
June 5, 2017

Its target simulated an intercontinental ballistic missile, meaning it flew faster than missiles used in previous intercept tests, according to Christopher Johnson, the Missile Defense Agency's spokesman.

Spectators watch an interceptor missile launch from an underground silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The string of islands and tiny atolls was the site of more than 65 nuclear tests during the Cold War.

"In several ways, this test was a $244 million-dollar baby step, a baby step that took three years", Coyle said.

Earlier this month, the senator introduced a bill calling for adding an additional 28 Ground-Based Interceptors in Alaska and California to better defend against North Korea in addition to the 30 GBIs already in place and 14 more set to be installed by the end of the year.

The Pentagon released video footage on Wednesday showing the exact moment a United States "kill vehicle" intercepted and destroyed a mock intercontinental ballistic missile as it flew outside the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. "This system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat". North Korea has been trying to miniaturize a nuclear warhead that could be mounted on an ICBM capable of hitting the US west coast. The ICBM was tracked by multiple radars, including the Sea-Based X-Band Radar, a giant radome mounted aboard a "semi-submersible" platform that resembles a giant self-propelled oil rig.

The Pentagon has insisted that Tuesday's test was scheduled years in advance, and has nothing to do with current tensions between the USA and North Korea over Pyongyang's continued testing of ballistic missiles.

He also pointed to Iran's increasing missile capabilities.

But intercepting intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) mid-flight is technically challenging, and the GMD program has met with mixed success since its inception in 1999.

In Washington DC, the new missile test that was planned to launch on Tuesday got a suspicious eye from the foe of United States, the North Korean government, who thinks this is another attempts to show the USA might focus on the communist Korean nation.

The tide turned in June 2014 when the agency notched a successful intercept test, bringing its success record to four in 17 tests. Physicist Laura Grego of the Union of Concerned Scientists wrote on her blog on May 19 that maritime navigation warnings suggested the interception test was for a missile with a range of 5,800 km.

A test failure would raise new questions about the defensive system.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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