The Pentagon will attempt to shoot down an intercontinental ballistic missile with its own upgraded long-rage interceptor missile as a test of US ability to counter a North Korean missile launch.
Two days ago, Pyongyang fired a short-range ballistic missile that traveled somewhere close to 250 miles. As a consequence, the US decided to test their anti-missile system in the skies over the Pacific Ocean.
North Korea’s action raised a lot of discussions, including from the behalf of President Donald Trump, who considered that “North Korea has shown great disrespect for their neighbor, China, by shooting off yet another ballistic missile…but China is trying hard!”
However, the Pentagon strongly sustains that their anti-missile test is not all about North Korea’s action. More than that, the test is aimed to challenge any threatening intercontinental ballistic missile, including the ones that may come from Iran in the future.
The new version of the military’s single long-range ground-based interceptor missile is currently based in Alaska and California. Furthermore, the program has existed for more than a decade. However, only half the tests have been successful. The US officials call it a “high-speed effort to hit a bullet with another bullet.”
The long-range system has been recently tested and it received a lot of criticism. The report said that “demonstrates a limited capability to defend the US homeland from small numbers of simple intermediate-range or intercontinental ballistic missile threats launched from North Korea or Iran.” More than that, the report mentioned that the Defense Department continues to discover new failure modes during their tests.
The interceptor missile will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and it aims to intercept a simulated threat missile launched from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
The Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, told Congress that “North Korea is an increasingly grave national security threat to the United States because of its growing missile and nuclear capabilities combined with the aggressive approach of its leader Kim Jong Un. Kim is attempting to prove that he has the capability to strike the US mainland with a nuclear weapon.”
The test comes as the US has increased its defense efforts, which includes the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system to South Korea. In addition, the US military has announced that the THAAD missile system had become operational earlier this month.