A brief history of United States missile defense systems

"The test occurred just days after the North Korean regime launched its ninth missile this year".

Tuesday's test, which took place over the Pacific, came after a series of successful missile tests by North Korea that demonstrated steady progress in its pursuit of various types of missiles, including a nuclear-tipped ICBM capable of reaching the U.S.

According to US military officials, the Raytheon-made 54-kg interceptor missile with Boeing thrusters, travelled at a hypersonic speed and hit its target high above the south Pacific about 15 minutes after its launch. "Iran also continues to develop more sophisticated missiles and improve the range and accuracy of current missile systems".

Missile Defense Agency director Vice Adm. Jim Syring called the $244 million test an "incredible accomplishment", stressing that the ground based missile defense (GMD) program 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".

The interceptor launched from Tuesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California would have destroyed the ICBM-class target sent up from Kwajalein Atoll "if it had been launched from North Korea", Syring said in a phone briefing to the Pentagon.

In a critical exercise over the Pacific Ocean yesterday, the U.S. Military successfully intercepted a mock ballistic missile similar to the ones North Korea has been testing or attempting to test. Asked about how North Korean ICBMs would be detected, Syring said the USA will use its radar systems in Japan, where it has four early-warning-detection TPY-2 radars deployed.

Its target simulated an intercontinental ballistic missile, meaning it flew faster than missiles used in previous intercept tests, according to Christopher Johnson, the Missile Defense Agency's spokesman.

According to a Pentagon statement, the anti-missile rocket scored "a direct hit", and "annihilated" the incoming ICBM, according to an ABC News report. The ICBM was tracked by multiple radars, including the Sea-Based X-Band Radar, a giant radome mounted aboard a "semi-submersible" platform that resembles a giant self-propelled oil rig.

Shooting two interceptor missiles at one incoming ICBM target would help understand what the second one does after the first destroys the target, he said.

"In a broad sense, North Korea is one of the reasons why we have this capability", Davis said. "They continue to conduct test launches, as we saw even this weekend, while also using unsafe rhetoric that suggests that they would strike the United States homeland".

  • Zachary Reyes