Pentagon successfully tests ICBM defence system for first time
- Author: Leroy Wright May 31, 2017,
May 31, 2017, 18:18
It's a step forward for a missile-defence programme that has taken on new significance in light of North Korean threats.
The Pentagon says it has shot down a mock warhead over the Pacific in a success for America's missile defense program.
"The intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target is an incredible accomplishment. and a critical milestone for this program", MDA Director Vice Adm. Jim Syring said.
"This system is vitally important to the defence of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat". "I am incredibly proud of the warfighters who executed this test and who operate this system every day".
Despite the success, the $244m test didn't confirm that under wartime conditions the United States could intercept an intercontinental-range missile fired by North Korea.
This was the 18th test of the ground-based interceptor.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Alabama), chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, said the successful test will help deter US adversaries. Only nine of the previous 17 tests since 1999 had been successful, Reuters reports. The military also launched a long-range ICBM target from a test site in the Marshall Islands.
But the interceptors, based in California and Alaska, would be overwhelmed by a full-scale attack from countries like Russian Federation or China, which could fire dozens of missiles at a time.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system battery was initially deployed in March in the southeastern region of Seongju with just two of its maximum load of six launchers to counter a growing North Korean missile threat. The re-entry vehicle landed at Kwajalein Atoll.
Media captionHow do you solve a problem like North Korea? It was conducted amid increased worry of a potential nuclear attack from North Korea.
Its accelerating missile development has complicated Pentagon calculations, most recently by incorporating solid-fuel technology into its rockets.
In a Monday tweet, President Donald Trump joined the leaders of South Korea and Japan in condemning the test, saying that North Korea had "shown great disrespect" for China by "shooting off yet another ballistic missile".
The test was once scheduled for past year, but pushed back as the Missile Defence Agency made engineering changes to the interceptor, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office released Tuesday.