The Pentagon says it has shot down a mock warhead over the Pacific in a success for America’s missile defense program.
The test was the first of its kind in nearly three years. And it was the first test ever targeting an intercontinental-range missile like North Korea is developing.
The booster carrying the interceptor popped out of the silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base in northern Santa Barbara County about 12:30 p.m., following the launch of the mock target minutes earlier from the Kwajalein Atoll about 4,200 miles southwest of the base.
The collision occurred high above the Pacific Ocean and was not visible from the Central Coast.
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Tuesday’s test involved the Missile Defense Agency’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense Segment designed to protect the United States against attack by a rogue nation such as North Korea or Iran.
“The intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target is an incredible accomplishment for the GMD system and a critical milestone for this program,” said Navy Vice Adm. Jim Syring, Missile Defense Agency director. “This system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat.”
This test, the first involving an intercontinental ballistic missile, has been planned for years. While the test met its primary objective, engineers will review performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the flights, MDA officials said.
MDA officials said previously that a successful test would clear the way for a salvo test involving two interceptors flying at the same time from Vandenberg.
Noozhawk.com is a Santa Barbara County-based news website.