U.S. Ends Losing Streak with Successful Missile Intercept Test
June 23, 2014
by Rachel Oswald
The United States on Sunday intercepted a target ballistic missile, ending a long losing streak of failed tests of its homeland antimissile system.
The test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system took place Sunday over the Pacific and involved a strategic Ground Based Interceptor fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and an intermediate-range missile target launched from the Reagan Test Site in the Marshall Islands.
Considerable political attention has been focused on the outcome of the test, given that the three most recent intercept attempts all ended in failure. Before Sunday’s test, the last time a Ground Based Interceptor successfully eliminated a target missile was late 2008. Additionally, Sunday’s event marked the first time that a second-generation kinetic kill vehicle mounted atop a GBI missile performed correctly. Both previous missile intercept attempts using the “CE-2” Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle were unsuccessful.
“I am very proud of the government and industry team conducting the test today,” Navy Vice Adm. James Syring, head of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, said in a press release. “This is a very important step in our continuing efforts to improve and increase the reliability of our homeland ballistic missile defense system.”
Syring said the agency would continue with its plans to deploy additional Ground Based Interceptors. The Defense Department last year announced plans to spend $1 billion to field 14 more GBI missiles at Fort Greely in Alaska by 2017, but senior officials have been circumspect in their recent statements about what would happen to those plans if Sunday’s test had been unsuccessful.
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