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Pentagon successfully tests intercontinental ballistic missile defence system

Amid tensions with North Korea, the United States successfully tested its intercontinental ballistic missile defence system for the first time ever.

May 31, 2017 09:50 IST
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 US tests ICBM defence system

The United States of America on 30 May 2017 successfully conducted the first-ever test of its defence system against an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The test was long-planned.

Speaking on the development, the US Missile Defence Agency (MDA) stated that a ground-based interceptor was launched at a California air base and it successfully shot down a mock ballistic missile.

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Key Highlights

• The U.S military fired an ICBM-type missile from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands towards the waters just south of Alaska.

• It then fired a missile to intercept it from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

• Experts compare the exercise to hitting a bullet with another bullet. The enormous distance involved further added to the complexity of the test.

• It was the first live-fire test against a simulated ICBM for the Ground-Based Missile Defense, which is managed by Boeing Co.

 US tests ICBM defence system

The MDA Director, Vice Admiral Jim Syring called the test a critical milestone, as it demonstrates that the US has a capable and credible deterrent against a real threat.
Prior to Tuesday's launch, the GMD system had successfully hit its target in only nine of 17 tests since 1999. The last test was in 2014.
Comment

The move comes at a time when tensions are at the peak with North Korea, especially after the country defying UN sanctions conducted its ninth missile test recently.  
A 2016 assessment released by the Pentagon's weapons testing office in January 2017 had revealed that the U.S. ground-based interceptors that are meant to shoot down any incoming ICBM still had low reliability, giving the system a limited capability of shielding the United States.

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