Pentagon: U.S. successfully destroys ICBM target in missile test

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The Sea-Based X-Band radar, positioned in the Pacific Ocean, also acquired and tracked the target. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this photo.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is reporting that its Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system has succeeded in its first attempt to shoot down an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile target (ICBM), the U.S. Department of Defense said in a press release.

"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", Vice Admiral Jim Syring, director of the US Missile Defense Agency, was quoted as saying.

The test came a day after North Korea test-fired another ballistic missile, the latest in a series of launches that have ratcheted up tensions over its quest to develop weapons capable of hitting the United States.

Syring's agency sounded a note of caution.

The US has successfully tested an interception system against intercontinental ballistic missiles, its military has announced.

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Four of nine missile intercept test attempts prior to Tuesday had been a success, including the last one in June 2014.

"The GMD program has a long way to go", said Philip E. Coyle, a senior science fellow at the Center who formerly headed the Pentagon's office of operational test and evaluation. The Pentagon is still incorporating engineering upgrades to its missile interceptor, which has yet to be fully tested in realistic conditions.

It is unknown if the interceptor had to seek the target among decoys, a concern many in the missile defense community fear is the GMD's major liability.

Pyongyang has repeatedly defied a United Nations resolution banning all nuclear and missile activity, and has ramped up the pace of its tests in recent months. The step would mean even less launch warning time for the United States.

Since then, Pyongyang has launched several more ballistic missiles, including a short-range ballistic missile on Monday that landed in the sea off its east coast.

"This is one element of a broader missile defense strategy that we can use to employ against potential threats", he said.

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The U.S. military fired an unarmed ICBM from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

The system, which has been operational since 2004 and has cost about $40 billion, is created to shoot down an incoming ICBM with interceptors launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., or Fort Greely, Alaska. It carries an exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) made by Raytheon.

The interceptors are, in essence, the last line of US defense against an attack by an intercontinental-range missile.

The Pentagon declared the missile-defense system ready for combat in 2004, but its testing history has been mixed.

The THAAD system battery was initially deployed in March in the southeastern region of Seongju with just two of its maximum load of six launchers to counter a growing North Korean missile threat.

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