USA interceptor missile hits target in South Pacific

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"The intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target is an incredible accomplishment.a critical milestone for this program", said Vice Admiral Jim Syring, the director of the Missile Defence Agency.

"Initial indications are that the test met its primary objective, but programme officials will continue to evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test", said the USA military statement.

The Pentagon however, in the aftermath of Tuesday's successful intercept, says the USA now has a credible and capable means of defending itself from North Korea's missile threat. A missile was sacked from Kwajalein Atoll and then intercepted by a rocket launched from a base in California.

The American interceptor has an uneven track record, having succeeded nine times out of 17 attempts against missiles in tests since 1999, although the most recent test - in June 2014 - was a success.

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North Korea has dramatically ramped up missile tests over the past year in its effort to develop an ICBM that can strike the USA mainland. The launch marked the North's ninth missile test this year and the third in about a week. A simulated attack intercontinental ballistic missile was sacked from a tiny island in the Pacific.

North Korea has also tested shooting multiple missiles in an effort to misdirect US defenses.

The ground-based mid-course defence (GMD) system used a 165cm "kill vehicle" released from a larger ground-based interceptor missile to obliterate the mock missile, defence officials said.

And before the test was carried out Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said: 'This is part of a continuous learning curve'. The GMD system received the target tracking data and developed a fire control solution to intercept the incoming missile. The "kill vehicle" carries no explosives, either in testing or in actual combat.

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The U.S. has 36 interceptors in Alaska and California now and could have 44 by year's end.

The missile defense program has yet to prove successful against missiles that can deploy decoys.

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

"Ever since Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) first was thought about seriously in the 1960s, it could not counter one cardinal truth". It's also possible North Korea could use decoys to trick the system; the GMD's interceptor rockets haven't been tested against decoys. That program has also been in existence for more than a decade but only about half of the tests have been successful, according to the Defense Department.

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