Pentagon missile defense program scores direct hit

Lance Nichols
June 1, 2017

A ground-based interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California "successfully intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile target" fired from the Reagan Test Site in the Marshall Islands, the Pentagon announced.

Pentagon officials said the test was to simulate the capability for responding to a hypothetical North Korean ICBM.

"Defense and intelligence officials warn that North Korea is making progress toward threatening the USA with a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile - although they won't say when". "And I'm even more confident today after seeing the intercept test yesterday that we continue to be on that course", Vice Admiral Jim Syring, the director of the Missile Defense Agency, told a news briefing.

This image made from video of an undated still image broadcasted in a news bulletin on Tuesday, May 30, 2017, by North Korea's KRT shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and a missile launcher in North Korea.

"North Korea has shown great disrespect for their neighbor, China, by shooting off yet another ballistic missile.but China is trying hard!"

Officially known as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, the Pentagon likens the defensive tactic to hitting a bullet with a bullet.

At the same time he said recent threats from the country "is one of the reasons why we have this capability".

Syring said the intercept outpaces foreign threats to the USA through 2020, which is how far out the US has designed these tests to replicate intelligence projections.

In addition to Tuesday's interceptor test, the Pentagon is deploying two US aircraft carriers to the Sea of Japan on Wednesday, for a few days of training.

Previously, the GMD system had successfully hit its target in only nine of 17 tests since 1999.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said before the test Tuesday morning that its timing was not tied directly to recent tensions with North Korea, which include Pyongyang continuing to carry out nuclear and ballistic-missile tests and threatening to attack both the continental United States and USA bases overseas.

The North has carried out two atomic tests and dozens of missile launches since the beginning of past year in its quest to develop a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States-something President Donald Trump has vowed "won't happen".

It was the third missile test by the nuclear-armed regime in less than three weeks, defying United Nations sanctions warnings and USA threats of possible military action.

Syring said the test is estimated to have cost $244 million.

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.

"Overall", she wrote in an analysis before the test, the military "is not even close to demonstrating that the system works in a real-world setting".

It is a similar missile defence system to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system, which was recently deployed in South Korea. Its success could translate into calls by Congress to speed development.

Despite UN and unilateral sanctions, North Korea has continued with its missile tests.

Other reports by TheDigitalNewspaper

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