Pentagon trumpets successful mock-ICBM interception test

Elias Hubbard
June 4, 2017

In the wake of North Korea's threat to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with sufficient range to hit the US mainland, the Pentagon announced Tuesday that its first live-fire test to shoot down an ICBM using its own ground-based missile defense system was a complete success. Pentagon officials say the missile hit its dummy target over the Pacific Ocean.

The ground-based mid-course defense (GMD) system used a five-foot "kill vehicle" released from a larger ground-based interceptor missile to obliterate the mock ICBM, defense officials said.

The interceptor was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and it "intercepted and destroyed the target in a direct collision".

Syring said the test demonstrated that the US had a "capable, credible deterrent" against a "very real" threat.

That's why missile defense advocates argue that the USA must continue working on a system that can defend US allies in Asia and North America against potential launches; program critics argue it's a boondoggle whose failures have already proved it can't be trusted in the event of a crisis.

The Navy's Aegis BMD system - in which a warship at sea launches against the ballistic missile target - has a better record, with 35 successful intercepts of 42 attempts, according to the Missile Defense Agency.

Philip E. Coyle is a former head of the Pentagon's test and evaluation office and a senior fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

"Flight intercept testing, particularly against realistic targets, remains a key element of the program to assess the effectiveness of our deployed missile defense system, as well as to demonstrate the capability and continue the development of such a system", he added.

The US military says it has intercepted a mock-up of an intercontinental ballistic missile in a first-of-its-kind test that comes amid concerns over North Korea's weapons program.

In a Monday tweet, President Donald Trump joined the leaders of South Korea and Japan in condemning the test, saying that North Korea had "shown great disrespect" for China by "shooting off yet another ballistic missile".

That test involves firing a new version of the military's single long-range ground-based interceptor missile, which is now based in Alaska and California. The mock threat was launched from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site in the Marshall Islands, and met by an interceptor launched from a silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The MDA said its mission was to develop a missile defense system to defend the US, its deployed forces, allies and friends from limited ballistic missile attacks of "all ranges in all phases of flight".

The test was a major challenge because an intercontinental ballistic missile flies faster than a shorter-range missile.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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