Historic ICBM intercept test sends strong message to North Korea

WASHINGTON — A monumental intercept test for the United States’ critical homeland defense system designed to defend against intercontinental ballistic missile threats from North Korea and Iran was a success, the Missile Defense Agency announced Tuesday shortly after the test.

As North Korea’s missile capabilities continue to grow, successful tests of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System that are specifically designed to go up against those possible missile threats are imperative, defense officials have said.

The test marks the first time the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system has gone up against an ICBM-class target, although some previous tests have featured intermediate-range ballistic missile targets that have approached ICBM speeds.

During the test conducted by the MDA in cooperation with the U.S. Air Force 30th Space Wing, an ICBM-class target was launched from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, according to an MDA statement released shortly after the test.

A ground-based interceptor was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. As designed, “its exo-atmospheric kill vehicle intercepted and destroyed the target in a direct collision,” the statement reads.

“The intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target is an incredible accomplishment for the GMD system and a critical milestone for this program,” MDA Director Vice Adm. Jim Syring said in the statement. “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.”

Multiple sensors were also put through the paces to provide target acquisition and tracking data to the Command, Control, Battle Management and Communication (C2BMC) system, according to the MDA. The Sea-Based X-band radar in the Pacific Ocean picked up and tracked the target, relaying the data, triggering a GMD system response.

ICBM test graphic

This graphic shows details of a U.S. missile launch targeting an ICBM.
Photo Credit: AP
“Initial indications are that the test met its primary objective, but program officials will continue to evaluate system performance based…

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