6 July 2013
LOS ANGELES - The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency once again missed hitting its desired target during flight test of an interceptor missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The failure of the $214 million test Friday involved a ground-based defense system, designed by Boeing Co., to defend the U.S. from long-range ballistic missile attacks.
The Missile Defense Agency now has a testing record of eight hits out of 16 intercept attempts with the "hit-to-kill" warheads. The last successful intercept occurred in December 2008.
Intercept testing of the system was halted in early 2011 after errors resulted in two failures in 2010 using a newer interceptor. The technology wasn't used Friday, but will be tested next year.
During the test, a target missile was fired at 11:30 a.m. from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Five minutes later, a three-stage interceptor was launched from a silo at Vandenberg.
After blastoff, the booster is desig ned to deploy a kill vehicle made by Raytheon Co. to hit the target at a designated point in space.
The kill vehicle is designed to lock on and eliminate high-speed ballistic missile warheads in space using nothing more than the sheer force of impact, known as a "hit-to-kill" defense, according to Raytheon.
The Missile Defense Agency did not yet know the cause of test failure. The agency said it is reviewing what occurred during the entire course of the test.
It's a significant blow for the ground-based system of 30 interceptors in Alaska and California, which the Government Accountability Office estimated would cost taxpayers $40 billion from 1996 to 2017.
Despite the poor track record, the Pentagon plans to add 14
missile interceptors in Alaska to counter North Korea, which has
issued threats since it tested an underground nuclear device and
launched a small satellite. The Pentagon expects cost of the
expansion to be $1 billion.
6 July 2013
Washington (AFP) - America's missile defense system failed on Friday in a test over the Pacific, with an interceptor failing to hit an incoming ballistic missile, the Pentagon said.
The miss represented yet another setback for the costly ground-based interceptors, which have not had a successful test result since 2008.
The test's objective was to have an interceptor, launched from Vandenberg air base in California, knock out a long-range ballistic missile fired from a US military test site at Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands.
But "an intercept was not achieved," US Missile Defense Agency spokesman Richard Lehner said in a brief statement.
"Program officials will conduct an extensive review to determine the cause or causes of any anomalies which may have prevented a successful intercept," it said.
The anti-missile weapon has run into repeated technical problems, with tests delayed after two failures in 2010.
The United States has 30 of the ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, at a cost of about $34 billion. They are supposed to counter the potential threat posed by North Korea, which has tried to develop long-range ballistic missiles.
The Pentagon wants to deploy an additional 14 ground-based interceptors to bases in Alaska, at a cost of about $1 billion, also in response to what Washington deems a growing threat from North Korea.
Some lawmakers also are pushing to open a new missile defense site on the country's East Coast, in case Iran or other adversaries obtain long-range missiles.
Critics of the missile defense program are sure to seize on
the test result as further proof that the system faces
insurmountable technical hurdles.