Test of missile defense program a hit for Pentagon, Raytheon

Posted May 31, 2017

"At this point, though, we have never seen North Korea fully test an ICBM, so the precise capabilities of such missiles is not yet known".

Earlier this month, an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base as part of a test.

Today's $244 million U.S. test has been heralded as a success after it brought down the mock intercontinental ballistic missile.

The system, which has been operational since 2004 and has cost about $40 billion, is created to shoot down an incoming ICBM with interceptors launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., or Fort Greely, Alaska.

The success of Tuesday's test is a watershed moment for the U.S. military's effort to establish an effective - though limited - ground-based defense against ICBMs.

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Pentagon officials compare it to one bullet shot from a gun striking another bullet. "Based on its testing record, we can not rely upon this missile defense program to protect the United States from a North Korean long-range missile".

The country's leader Kim Jong-un has threatened the possibility of such an attack, with North Korea dramatically ramping up the pace of its missile tests over the past year with the goal of developing an ICBM that can strike the USA mainland.

While North Korea now lacks the capability to hit the USA mainland, the U.S. military intelligence chief recently warned that such a development is only a matter of time. "It appears the U.S.is trying to stay well ahead of the curve, rather than give North Korea the chance to level the playing field".

The U.S. has "successfully intercepted" an intercontinental ballistic missile during the first test of its ground-based intercept system, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said on Tuesday.

Tensions between North Korea and America have been growing.

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China reiterated that UN Security Council resolutions had "clear rules" about North Korean missile activities and it urged Pyongyang not to contravene them.

Despite Tuesday's victory, there are still doubts about the United States' ability to effectively defend the nation.

Haley also said the USA and China are working on the timing of when to come out with another resolution toughening sanctions on the North.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, asked what a military conflict with North Korea might look like if diplomacy failed, warned on Sunday it would be "probably the worst kind of fighting in most people's lifetimes".

The White House said President Donald Trump had been briefed about the launch. It came just days after world leaders at the G-7 economic summit demanded Pyongyang give up its nuclear ambitions.

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"Flight intercept testing, particularly against realistic targets, remains a key element of the program to assess the effectiveness of our deployed missile defense system, as well as to demonstrate the capability and continue the development of such a system", he added. But China opposes it, regarding it as a threat.