The US military said Tuesday it had 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.
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 military said in a statement.
The test saw a rocket from the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system blast into space and then deploy its “exo-atmospheric kill vehicle,” which smashed into the dummy ICBM, destroying it in a direct collision.
“This system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat,” Vice Admiral Jim Syring, director of the US Missile Defense Agency, was quoted as saying.
The exercise marked a significant step for the GMD system, which has had a checkered record in previous tests.
Though it succeeded in the last test in 2014, it failed during the three prior attempts against slower-moving, non-ICBM missiles.
“The intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target is an incredible accomplishment for the GMD system and a critical milestone for this program,” Syring said.
The missile defense system will comprise 44 interceptors by the end of the year, so it could thwart an attack from a rogue state or a volley of rockets.
But the interceptors, based in California and Alaska, would be overwhelmed by a full-scale attack from countries like Russia or China, which could fire dozens of missiles at a time.
Full article: US successfully tests ICBM defense system (Spacewar)