USA says anti-missile defense capability outpacing long-range missile threats

Elias Hubbard
June 10, 2017

The U.S. military successfully launched its first-ever missile defense test involving a simulated attack by an intercontinental ballistic (ICBM) missile.

"According to the agency's press release, this is the first test of the United States homeland missile defense system against a 'complex, threat-representative [intercontinental ballistic missile] ICBM target".

The test interceptor is equipped with an Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), which is supposed to destroy the target vehicle with a direct hit.

But, with only 44 of the expensive ground-based interceptor missiles expected to be in service at the end of this year, the next test will not take place until late 2018, Vice Admiral Jim Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency, said.

The mock ICBM was launched from Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific and the interceptor came from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, engaging the test target over the sea. "I am incredibly proud of the warfighters who executed this test and who operate this system every day". The North Koreans have not yet tested an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The Missile Defense Agency conducted an initial live-fire test Tuesday of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense platform component of the ballistic missile defense system.

The California test came as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said the Trump administration believed Beijing was using back channels with North Korea in an attempt to get it to stop missile and nuclear tests. This is the first intercept test since 2014.

The target was a custom-made missile meant to simulate an ICBM, meaning it flew faster than missiles used in previous intercept tests, according to Christopher Johnson, the Missile Defense Agency's spokesman.

Though he applauded the results of the 40-billion dollar program, he said more needs to be done to keep the USA ahead of the North Korean Threat.

"The real question is 'what has been demonstrated?' Before this test, the Pentagon's highest testing official said that the testing program to date was not sufficient to demonstrate an operationally relevant capability", Dr. Laura Grego, Senior Scientist at the Global Security Program of the Union of Concerned Scientists, told NK News.

The US believes North Korea is trying to develop a missile that could reach its western coast.

The interceptor system destroys ICBMs by unleashing a 5-foot-long "kill vehicle" to demolish the missile through sheer impact.

"They continue to conduct test launches, as we saw this weekend, while also using risky rhetoric that suggests they would strike the United States homeland".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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