ABC News & RT News & CNN – 2017-05-31 00:47:40
US Successfully Intercepts ICBM in Historic Test
Elizabeth McLaughlin and Luis Martinez / ABC News
(May 30, 2017) — The US has “successfully intercepted” an intercontinental ballistic missile during the first test of its ground-based intercept system, the US Missile Defense Agency said Tuesday.
The test occurred just days after the North Korean regime launched its ninth missile this year. US officials say today’s test had been planned for years.
The ground-based interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California shortly after 3:30 p.m. ET. A little more than one hour later, the Pentagon confirmed that it had successfully collided with an ICBM-class target over the Pacific Ocean.
The ICBM-target was launched from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, 4,200 miles away.
“The intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target is an incredible accomplishment for the GMD [Ground-based Missile Defense] system and a critical milestone for this program,” said Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Adm. Jim Syring. “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. I am incredibly proud of the warfighters who executed this test and who operate this system every day.”
The ground-based interceptor system is mainly designed to counter a North Korean missile threat, but a US official said Tuesday’s long-scheduled test was coincidental to North Korea’s increased missile testing this year.
This was the 18th test of the ground-based interceptor. The last one, in June 2014, was the first success since 2008. The system was nine for 17 since 1999 with other types of shorter-range target missiles. Tuesday’s ICBM target had never been tested before.
There are 32 ground-based interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska, and four at Vandenberg.
The Missile Defense Agency said in its 2018 fiscal year budget overview that it would deploy eight additional ground-based interceptors in Alaska by the end of 2017, for a total of 44, “to improve protection against North Korean and potential Iranian ICBM threats as they emerge.”
The US tests its ICBMs about twice every year. 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. The re-entry vehicle landed at Kwajalein Atoll.
“These test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent,” the Air Force Global Strike Command said in a statement.
Growing Threat from North Korea
North Korea has spent the last decade working to develop an ICBM capable of reaching the continental United States. Though North Korea has conducted nine missiles tests in 2017, none have been ICBMs.
The ground-based interceptor being tested Tuesday is different from the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system deployed in South Korea, which is designed to intercept missiles at a lower altitude in their terminal stage.
The last test North Korea conducted, on May 28, was assessed as a short-range ballistic missile, which landed in the Sea of Japan, according to US Pacific Command.
Two weeks earlier, North Korea tested a KN-17 medium-range ballistic missile, the first successful launch of its kind for the nation.
The Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada told reporters that the missile reached an unprecedented altitude of 1,245 miles. Experts said the missile would have flown much farther if it had been launched on a maximum trajectory â€” perhaps capable of reaching US military bases in Guam.
US Tests ICBM Interceptor Missile
Amid Rising Tensions with North Korea
(May 30, 2017) — The first ever test of an interceptor intended to shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) has been successful, the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said. The long-planned trial comes amid increased tensions with North Korea.
A Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptor was fired from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Tuesday afternoon. The target vehicle, designed to resemble an ICBM, took off from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The intercept took place high above the Pacific Ocean, the agency said.
Kwajalein is approximately 8,000 km (4,972 miles) from Los Angeles, California. The Pentagon classifies any missile with a range greater than 3,400 miles as an ICBM.
Tuesday’s test was planned “years in advance” and is not a direct response to recent North Korean tests of ballistic missiles, a Pentagon official who spoke on condition of anonymity told Stars and Stripes last week.
The test interceptor is equipped with an Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), which is supposed to destroy the target vehicle with a direct hit.
“This will be the first test of an upgraded kill vehicle, and the first test against an ICBM-class target,”MDA spokesman Chris Johnson said in a statement prior to the launch.
Deployed in 2004 by the Bush administration, the GMD has never been used it combat. This is the first intercept test since 2014. There are currently 32 interceptor missiles in Fort Greely, Alaska and four at Vandenberg. Eight more are supposed to come on-line by the end of this year, AP reported.
While North Korea currently lacks the capability to hit the US mainland, the US military intelligence chief recently warned that such a development is only a matter of time.
US, Japan Conduct Successful Missile Interception Test
Brad Lendon / CNN
(February 6, 2017) — The US and Japan have passed a crucial test for missile defense, shooting down a medium-range ballistic missile with a new interceptor launched from a guided-missile destroyer.
The US Missile Defense Agency announced that the USS John Paul Jones detected, tracked and took out the target ballistic missile using its onboard Aegis Missile Defense System and a Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor.
The test took place Friday night off the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
“Today’s test demonstrates a critical milestone in the cooperative development of the SM-3 Block IIA missile,” the director of the Missile Defense Agency, Vice Adm. Jim Syring, said in a statement.
“The missile, developed jointly by a Japanese and US government and industry team, is vitally important to both our nations and will ultimately improve our ability to defend against increasing ballistic missile threats around the world.”
The test came while new US Defense Secretary James Mattis was on his first overseas trip to South Korea and Japan. Ballistic missile defense was at the top of the agenda after North Korea’s prolific testing of short- and intermediate-range missiles last year. And the US is worried that North Korea may be developing a long-range missile that could carry a nuclear warhead to reach as far as the US West Coast.
A focus of Mattis’ trip was the THAAD — Terminal High Altitude Area Defense — anti-missile system, which the US plans to deploy in South Korea this year.
The THAAD system has drawn sharp criticism from China, which sees it as part of a broader US strategy to extend its military alliance network from Japan all the way down to the South China Sea.
But during his trip to South Korea, Mattis said North Korea’s “provocative behavior” was the only reason THAAD would be deployed. “There is no other nation that needs to be concerned about THAAD other than North Korea,” he said.
Though THAAD and Aegis operate on a similar concept, it’s THAAD that has drawn vocal Chinese opposition.
Asked Monday about the Aegis system missile test, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said all such systems raised trust issues among the major military powers.
“Countries should not only consider their own security interests but also respect other countries’ security concerns” when it comes to missile defense, Lu said. “We should follow the principles of preserving global strategic stability and doing no harm to other countries’ security.”
The Aegis system is designed to intercept ballistic missile around the middle of their flight, when the missile is at its highest point above the Earth.
The system is based on the powerful AN/SPY-1 radar, which can track 100 missiles simultaneously.
The US Navy has 22 guided-missile cruisers and 62 guided-missile destroyers equipped with the Aegis system. Japan has six Aegis destroyers with plans for more. South Korea also operates Aegis-equipped destroyers.
CNN’s Steven Jiang in Beijing contributed to this report.
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