Not too many years ago, many “experts” said this could never be done and the “Star Wars” vision of Ronald Reagan was doomed to failure — a waste of billions of dollars. Now missile defense is successful and at the top of the agenda for many people who need defense, like the Europens who fear a missile from, say, Iran. Missile defnse is also on the agenda of Mister Medvedev and Putin in Russia but for reasons that are murkier….
The U.S. military yesterday shot down a missile in a test simulating a long-range ballistic missile attack by a potential adversary such as North Korea or Iran, senior defense officials said.
The target missile was launched from Kodiak Island, Alaska, at 3:04 p.m. Eastern time, tracked simultaneously by several ground and ship-based radars, and intercepted by a “kill vehicle” 3,000 kilometers away over the Pacific 25 minutes later, according to the Missile Defense Agency.
Above: In this photo provided by the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, a Ground-Based Interceptor is shown shortly after liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 5, 2008. The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency used the interceptor missile to knock down a missile meant to simulate the speed and trajectory of a North Korean attack. It struck the target missile around 3:30 p.m., shortly after the target was launched from a location in Alaska.(AP Photo/Missile Defense Agency, Joe Davila)
By Ann Scott Tyson
The Washington Post
In this photo provided by the Missile Defense Agency, a long-range Strategic Targets System (STARS) rocket is launched from the Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska Friday, Dec. 5, 2008. The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency used a Ground-Based Interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., to knock down a missile meant to simulate the speed and trajectory of a North Korean attack. It struck the target missile around 3:30 p.m., shortly after the target was launched from a location in Alaska.(AP Photo/Missile Defense Agency)
“It was the largest, most complex test we have ever done,” Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, chief of the Missile Defense Agency, said at a Pentagon news conference after the test.
“The key to our protection . . . is to be able to have all of these different sensors simultaneously tracking” and recognizing the same object, which they did for the first time in yesterday’s test, he said. “The kill vehicle was sent to a very accurate spot in space,” he said, adding that the result “does give us great confidence.”
However, he said the 40-year-old target missile failed to deploy its countermeasures — such as decoys or chaff — which were supposed to add realism to the test.