Pentagon declares success for key test of missile defense

The test was the system's first attempted intercept of a target missile in almost three years.

It was the ninth missile test this year as North Korea steps up its program aimed at developing a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the US mainland, despite United Nations sanctions and diplomatic pressure against it. Pyongyang also claimed to have successfully tested a new anti-aircraft weapon system last week aimed at foiling USA air power.

The interceptor missile being launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

That means knowing every bit of information about the target, the USA missile defense system managed to physically hit the object under 100% optimal conditions, which should be little assurance of its functionality, particularly since previous tests under similarly optimal conditions have succeeded only about half the time. "I am incredibly proud of the warfighters who executed this test and who operate this system every day", Syring said.

Meanwhile, Trump continued his aggressive tweets at North Korea this week.

Defense contractor Raytheon, who produced the exo-atmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) that slammed into the target, also cheered the test, which was the tenth time the GMD system had intercepted its target outside of the Earth's atmosphere, in space. "At this point, North Korea appears to be working to develop missiles which can cover greater ranges and, ostensibly, reach the continental US or Hawaii", NK News Director of Intelligence John Grisafi said. Officials have pointed out that these tests were conducted in conditions that were designed for success: planners knew in advance the speed and approximate trajectory of the incoming missile. 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.

"In several ways, this test was a $244 million-dollar baby step, a baby step that took three years", Coyle said.

Underscoring its uninterrupted efforts, North Korea on Monday fired a short-range ballistic missile that landed in Japan's maritime economic zone.

"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 system's interceptors are 60-foot-tall, three-stage rockets, each tipped with a 5-foot, 150-pound "kill vehicle". Program officials will continue studying the results to fine-tune the complex anti-ballistic missile system known as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, the statement said.

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

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to deploy a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching American territory.

In his Tuesday statement, Sullivan said more needs to be done on missile defense.

  • Zachary Reyes