Hit or miss, missile defense test marks key milestone

"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 system that we test today is a developmental system that's being flown for the first time and we look forward to understanding the results so we continue to mature the system and stay ahead of the threat". The military also launched a long-range ICBM target from a test site in the Marshall Islands. North Korea has vowed to develop an ICBM capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and striking the US mainland.

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

It may be the case that North Korea does not yet have the ability to prosecute World War 3 on the USA mainland, but according to Fox News, recent tests have shown that they could strike us bases in the region, notably the Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni, on the southern tip of Japan's main island.

It was the first live-fire test against a simulated ICBM for the Ground-Based Missile Defense (GMD). It was the latest in a fast-paced series of missile tests defying world pressure and threats of more sanctions.

Concern among the global community over the North's weapons programme was further raised after North Korea test-fired yet another ballistic missile, the latest in a series of launches that have ratcheted up tensions over Pyongyang's quest to develop weapons capable of hitting the United States.

Despot Kim Jong-un said that North Korea will develop more powerful weapons after the "successful" missile launch on Monday, according to state-run news agency KCNA. "We must do more to build on the success of today's test to truly keep Americans and their allies safe from the threat of ballistic missile attack".

Meanwhile, the Pentagon insists the long-planned test of its ground-based interceptor system is not exclusively about North Korea but is aimed at being able to challenge any threatening ICBM.

An operational test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., is seen from nearby Lompoc, Calif., Sept. 26, 2013. Earlier this month, the Air Force Global Strike Command test-launched an unarmed Minuteman III ICBM equipped with a single test re-entry vehicle from Vandenberg.

As for the interceptors themselves, they're 60-foot-tall and come with a three-stage rocket booster that carry a 5-foot-long "kill vehicle".

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

North Korea calls such drills a preparation for war.

The Pentagon has other elements of missile defense that have shown to be more reliable, although they are created to work against medium-range or shorter-range ballistic missiles.

The missile test triggered swift condemnation from US President Donald Trump who said it showed "disrespect" for neighbouring China, the North's sole major ally, which has sought to ease tensions over Pyongyang's weapons programme. "If this is going to happen every other day, how should we respond in a way that we actually stop these things, or slow it down?"

  • Zachary Reyes