Pentagon trumpets successful mock-ICBM interception test

If they know where it comes from and how fast it's going: America defends against itself

By Richard Chirgwin


In a show of strength aimed at ever-belligerent North Korea, America has shot down what it calls a “simulated ICBM” with an intercept missile.

Following the test, the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) claimed success, saying the target was struck by the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the ballistic missile defense system.

The ICBM target was “launched from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands”. Sensors on the target sent back “target acquisition and tracking data” to command, and the sea-based X-band radar in the Pacific Ocean “also acquired and tracked the target”.

The interceptor was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and it “intercepted and destroyed the target in a direct collision.”

The “hit” apparently occurs at around 1:07 in the video below.

While a handy demonstration that interception is feasible in the right conditions, it's only a step along the way in America's long program to try and build a credible ICBM defense.

As Martin Pfieffer, who Tweets as @NuclearAnthro, put it: “Now do it with one flying faster, carrying chaff, and of unknown launch & trajectory.”

The MDA's announcement says this test was the first live-fire test against an ICBM-class target – not, as many headlines have already claimed, the first successful interception.

The Pentagon claimed success in 2007, but after a disappointing few years, the brasshats will be pleased with today's demo, even if India has already also demonstrated missile interception abilities.

There's still a bunch of telemetry and other data to analyse, the MDA says, which will help improve ground-based systems for future tests. ®

Sign up to our NewsletterGet IT in your inbox daily


More from The Register

Game of Thrones showrunners to make Star Wars flicks

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will write and produce series set in bits of the Lucasverse

China 'hacked' South Korea to wreck Star Wars missile shield

FireEye fingers Middle Kingdom infiltration teams

Meet R2-DILDO: 'Star Wars' sex toys? This is where the fun begins

I have a good... er, I mean a bad feeling about this...

Star Wars: Big Euro cinema group can't handle demand for tickets to new flick

Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to nerds raging on Twitter

May the excessive force be with you: Chap cuffed after Star Trek v Star Wars row turns bloody

Poll Settle this like the illogical humans you are – vote on which is best

Disney plotting 15 more years of Star Wars

First we'll get non-digital Leia and Han Solo: Young Adult with Chewie and Falcon back-story

Well, it is the Empire of enterprise IT... Oracle's Ellison plans 'Star Wars cyber defense' for his second-generation cloud

OpenWorld Does he mean some farm boy with just womp rat experience can destroy the whole thing?

Spotted: Bizarre SpaceX rocket-snatching machine that looks like it belongs on Robot Wars

Pic Mawhrin-Skel to ride again?

El Reg mulls entering Robot Wars arena

Vulturebot death machine? A lovely idea

Harrison Ford's leg, in the Star Wars film, with the Millennium Falcon door

Disney subsidiary pleads guilty to criminal charges