Pentagon Says It Has Successfully Shot Down A Simulated ICBM Attack
Update: according to the Missile Defense Agency, the test was a success.
According to the just released statement, during the test, an ICBM-class target was launched from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Multiple sensors provided target acquisition and tracking data to the Command, Control, Battle Management and Communication (C2BMC) system. The Sea-Based X-band radar, positioned in the Pacific Ocean, also acquired and tracked the target. The GMD system received the target tracking data and developed a fire control solution to intercept the target.
Full statement from the Pentagon below:
HOMELAND MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM SUCCESSFULLY INTERCEPTS ICBM TARGET
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency, in cooperation with the U.S. Air Force 30th Space Wing, the Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense and U.S. Northern Command, today successfully intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile target during a test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the nation's ballistic missile defense system.
This was the first live-fire test event against an ICBM-class target for GMD and the U.S. ballistic missile defense system.
During the test, an ICBM-class target was launched from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Multiple sensors provided target acquisition and tracking data to the Command, Control, Battle Management and Communication (C2BMC) system. The Sea-Based X-band radar, positioned in the Pacific Ocean, also acquired and tracked the target. The GMD system received the target tracking data and developed a fire control solution to intercept the target.
A ground-based interceptor was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and its exo-atmospheric kill vehicle intercepted and destroyed the target in a direct collision.
A clip of the GMD taking off in California:
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As previewed last week, on Tuesday afternoon the US began the first ever missile test involving a simulated attack by an intercontinental ballistic missile, firing off an interceptor from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, according to a Reuters witness located at the airbase. The long-planned experiment comes amid increased tensions over North Korea’s ballistic missile tests.
Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element launches during a flight test from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, U.S., May 30, 2017.
As part of the historic attempt to intercept an inbound ICBM, a Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptor was fired from the Vandenberg. The target vehicle, designed to resemble an ICBM, was fired from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
The intercept should take place shortly over the Pacific Ocean. Reuters adds that it could be several hours before the U.S. military discloses whether the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptor struck its target. The Kwajalein atoll is approximately 8,000 km (4,972 miles) from Los Angeles, California.
While the test comes as fears mount about North Korea's advancing program to develop an ICBM capability, Pentagon official who spoke on condition of anonymity told Stars and Stripes last week said that Tuesday’s test was planned “years in advance” and is not a direct response to recent North Korean tests of ballistic missiles.
Despite the denial, many are skeptical: 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.
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,” US Missile Defense Agency spokesman Chris Johnson said in a statement.
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.