US Missile Interceptor Test Successful as North Korea Threat Grows

US military said it had intercepted a mock-up of an ICBM in a first-of-its-kind test

US military said it had intercepted a mock-up of an ICBM in a first-of-its-kind test

The test was planned in response to what are regarded as provocations by North Korea, which, as of last week, has carried out three missile tests in three weeks.

The timing of the test has prompted the assumption that the system is created to tackle the North Korean threat but the Pentagon insists it's being developed to tackle any threatening intercontinental ballistic missile, including the possibility of a strike by Iran. The "Ground-based Midcourse Defense" system as it's called, intercepted a dummy ICBM for the first time, over the Pacific Ocean, marking a major technical milestone for the program.

Video released by the Pentagon shows the red-hot point of impact during the United States' historic ICBM intercept test - launched a day after North Korea's latest saber-rattling - aimed at protecting the country from enemies' intercontinental-range missiles.

The GMD system now includes four ground-based interceptors at Vandenberg and another 32 in Fort Greely, Alaska.

The US military played down expectations about the success of the GMD ahead of the test, saying it could go either way.

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. The successful test is sure to bring some optimism to the officials in charge of the GMD system, which has been dogged with criticisms of its ineffectiveness.

North Korea continues to take steps towards the possibility of having long-range missile technology capable of reaching the United States territory, as well as the development of a nuclear warhead compact enough to fit in a missile.

The Pentagon's oft-criticized missile defense program has scored a triumph. None of the kill vehicles had a successful test before being fielded.

The test, designated Flight Test Ground-Based Interceptor (FTG)-15, will provide the data necessary to assess the performance of the GMD system and provide enhanced homeland defense capabilities. "There's no technical fix here, there's no magic wand, some shiny technology that's going to make all our problems go away".

Shooting two interceptor missiles at one incoming ICBM target would help understand what the second one does after the first destroys the target, he said.

Pyongyang's reaction has been defiance and stepped up testing to improve its nuclear arsenal and achieve its goal of being able to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead capable of reaching the United States.

The test will, however, not confirm that the U.S.is capable of defending itself against an ICBM fired by North Korea.

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