US Shoots Down Mock Warhead Over Pacific

Michele Moreno
May 31, 2017

Though it succeeded in the last test in 2014, it failed during the three prior attempts against slower-moving, non-ICBM missiles.

North Korea's nuclear ambitions have injected a new sense of urgency to building an effective defense against the country and actions of its unpredictable leader, Kim Jong Un, who is trying to develop a long-range missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and reaching the USA mainland.

Today's $244 million United States test has been heralded as a success after it brought down the mock intercontinental ballistic missile.

Laura Grego, senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, which has criticized the USA missile defense program, calls the interceptor an "advanced prototype", meaning it is not fully matured technologically even if it has been deployed and theoretically available for combat since 2004. Although some defense sources have denied that the test is a direct response to the long series of North Korean missile tests, others have spoken to the contrary. It has been in place since 2004 and never used in combat or fully tested. Once in space, the kill vehicle detaches from the rocket and, using infrared sensors to guide its way, attempts to fly into the path of the hostile missile. But Tuesday's test features a new kill vehicle and upgraded interceptor boosters.

The US now possesses only a single long-range, ground-based interceptor.

Vice Adm. James D. Syring, the director of the MDA, called the intercept "an incredible accomplishment" and a "critical milestone".

"This is one element of a broader missile defence strategy that we can use to employ against potential threats", Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said.

The continental United States is about 9,000 kilometres from North Korea.

'We improve and learn from each test, regardless of the outcome.

Kwajalein is approximately 8,000 km (4,972 miles) from Los Angeles, California.

Ahead of the launch, Riki Ellison, the founder of the Missile Defence Advocacy Alliance, described the test as "vital".

In a launch visible in Southern California, the Air Force shot down an incoming missile with a ground-based interceptor Tuesday in a drill created to prepare for a North Korean nuclear strike.

In its 2018 budget presented to Congress last week, the Pentagon proposed spending $7.9 billion on missile defense, including $1.5 billion for the ground-based mid-course defense program.

While Tuesday's test wasn't designed with the expectation of an imminent North Korean missile threat, the military will closely look for progress toward the stated goal of being able to reliably shoot down a small number of ICBMs targeting the United States.

Trump's administration reassured Americans that the U.S. had multiple layers of defence from missile attacks.

President Trump recently ordered the Pentagon to undertake a ballistic missile defense review.

This month alone the country has carried out nine missile launches.

Other reports by Insurance News

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