Feeds

Missile missed in criticism-busting interceptor test failure

Giant seagoing golfball fingered as culprit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The US Missile Defence Agency (MDA) has announced a failed test of its controversial Groundbased Midcourse Defence interceptor. The agency blamed the test failure on problems with the Sea Based X-Band radar, well known for its resemblance to an enormous golfball mounted on an oil rig.

Reassuringly expensive.

In a brief statement, the MDA said:

A target missile was successfully launched at approximately 3:40 pm PST from the US Army’s Reagan Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Approximately six minutes later, a Ground-Based Interceptor was successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Both the target missile and Ground-Based Interceptor performed nominally after launch. However, the Sea-Based X-band radar did not perform as expected.

Program officials will conduct an extensive investigation to determine the cause of the failure to intercept.

The floating golfball radar is intended to track enemy ballistic missile warheads soaring toward the United States outside the Earth's atmosphere. Its ability to sit far out at sea is intended to offer improved advanced tracking of weapons coming in across the Pacific - as they would if fired from North Korea, for example, though that nation has yet to conduct a successful test of a missile capable of reaching the continental USA.

The seaborne radar's role in yesterday's trial will have been to track the test warhead and vector the intercepting GMD "kill vehicle" in until its own telescope tracker could detect its prey.

The large, powerful GMD interceptor rockets are the only weapons in the MDA's arsenal designed to knock out ICBM warheads at the highest, middle portion of their flight. Other technologies such as the Standard SM-3 naval interceptor and the Airborne Laser jumbo-jet raygun are intended to swat missiles in either the ascent or descent stages of their trajectory, while nearer to Earth. The GMDs have had a spotty test record, however, and Russia mounted huge opposition to their emplacement in eastern Europe.

Yesterday's test was intended to quell doubters of the entire missile-defence approach, with the target missile deploying countermeasures. Critics of the GMD programme say that tests thus far, which have not included such spoilers, have been too kind to the intercept tech.

The MDA isn't disclosing whether the intercepting kill vehicle had simply failed to reach the "threat cluster" of warhead(s) and decoys, or whether it had reached the cluster but hit a countermeasure rather than the actual target. We asked for clarification on this, and were informed that no more information will be available "probably for a few weeks". ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.