Friday, 24 November, 2017

Hit or miss, missile defense test is a key milestone

US envoy: US believes China is trying to stop NKorea tests Hit or miss, missile defense test is a key milestone
Grace Luna | 14 June, 2017, 07:40

It was North Korea's third ballistic missile test in as many weeks and the 12th this year - carried out in fresh defiance of United Nations sanctions warnings and U.S. threats of possible military action.

Meanwhile the Pentagon will today for the first time test its ability to shoot down an intercontinental ballistic missile using its own upgraded long-range interceptor missile in what is being widely seen as a test of United States ability to counter the North Korean missile launch.

Officials at Vandenberg in eastern Santa Barbara County said the interceptor will be launched between noon and 4 p.m. The Pentagon's upgraded interceptor missile will then be launched from California in an attempt to foil the simulated missile.

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 is still thought to be several years from its goal of being able to target US mainland cities with a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile.

North Korea boasted the "medium long-range" ballistic rocket is capable of carrying a heavy nuclear warhead, but most experts view that claim with skepticism believing the North Koreans have yet to ideal the necessary technology. Outside analysts believe North Korea may be able to arm some of its shorter-range missiles with nuclear warheads, though the exact state of the North's secretive weapons program is unknown.

The Missile Defense Agency said the test will involve launching a simulated ICBM from a test site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands toward the United States. "In several ways, this test was a $244 million dollar baby step, a baby step that took three years".

The GMD has been in place since 2004 but never used in combat.

It was the latest in a recent string of North Korean missile tests, including two that exploded shortly after launch.

"The intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target is an incredible accomplishment. and a critical milestone for this program", said MDA Director Vice Adm. Jim Syring.

The anti-missile system is meant to protect the US from limited attacks involving intermediate and long-range ballistic missiles.

Tuesday's test was the first of a new "kill vehicle", 5-foot-long device which steers itself into the path of the oncoming missile, destroying it by the force of impact.

North Korea is still thought to be several years from its goal of being able to target US mainland cities with nuclear ICBMs.

KCNA also reported that Kim Jong-un "expressed the conviction that it [North Korea] would make a greater leap forward in this spirit to send a bigger "gift package" to the Yankees" as a warning in light of alleged us military provocation in the region.

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.

"Since no "missile defense" will ever be flawless, how many cities is a president willing to give up if he starts a nuclear war?" he asked. Some experts argue the current strategy for shooting down ICBM-range missiles, focused on the silo-based interceptors, is overly expensive and inadequate.

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