USA says it's ready to defend against N. Korean missiles "today"

Claudine Rigal
Juin 5, 2017

Tuesday's test was the first time the system had faced a live-fire ICBM-class test, MDA said in a press release.

The successful $244 million endeavor on Tuesday marked the first live-fire test of us defenses against an intercontinental ballistic missile, according to the Pentagon.

Vice Adm. Jim Syring, director of the Defense Department's Missile Defense Agency, told Pentagon reporters that the test included decoys and replicated a very specific scenario in the Pacific.

"The US Defense Department conducted the missile defense system test as North Korea continued the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the USA mainland", reported Global Security. Asked about how North Korean ICBMs would be detected, Syring said the US will use its radar systems in Japan, where it has four early-warning-detection TPY-2 radars deployed. The Pentagon classifies any missile with a range greater than 3,400 miles as an ICBM.

U.S. news outlets said the test was meant to prepare for the possibility of a North Korean ICBM attack on the mainland US. A successful test Tuesday, she said, could demonstrate the Pentagon is on the right track with its latest technical fixes.

The intercept test, which comes at a time when the keeping a wary eye on North Korea's missile program, was successful. However, this new ICBM target had never been tested before.

However, Syring's agency also sounded a note of caution after the $244-million test.

The MDA said the test met its primary objective, but evaluation of the system's performance will continue, using telemetry and other data acquired during the exercise.

An rocket created to intercept an intercontinental ballistic missiles is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Calif. on Tuesday, May 30, 2017. Four of the nine missile-intercept tests prior to Tuesday had been a success, including the last one in June 2014.

Coyle also noted, "The mock enemy target was only barely of ICBM range and slower than an ICBM from North Korea to Los Angeles", adding, "The closing velocity, the closure rate between the target and the interceptor also was slower than an intercept would be between a North Korean ICBM and a US interceptor".

The kill vehicle, or external kill vehicle (EKV), is a almost two-metre-long device that is jettisoned from a ground-launched missile before colliding with the incoming ICBM. Attention was drawn to the growing concern of the US concerning development of missile programs in North Korea and Iran that threaten not only the region, but also national security of the United States. The intercept of ICBMs have not been tested even once.

Currently, the GMD system is comprised of 36 interceptors deployed in Alaska and California, with the Pentagon planning to increase that total to 44, by the end of this year. Earlier this year, Kim Jong Un announced that North Korea is close to testing a long-range missile.

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