Photo Credit: US Navy photo / Wikimedia
Scud missile parts and equipment found in the cargo hold aboard the North Korean vessel, 'So San' discovered after being boarded by Spanish Special Forces in the Gulf of Aden on December 9, 2002.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency reports the successful interception of a simulated ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) target by the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the national ballistic missile defense system.

The test, conducted over the Pacific Ocean, was the first live-fire test event against an ICBM-class target for GMD and the U.S. ballistic missile defense system.

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“The US Defense Department conducted the missile defense system test as North Korea continued the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland,” reported Global Security.

“The test occurred just days after the North Korean regime launched its ninth missile this year. The test involved launching a target meant to simulate an ICBM from a base in the Marshall Islands and then shooting it down with a ground-based interceptor launched from Vandenberg AFB in California.

“The US government plans to strengthen its missile defense to protect the mainland by deploying additional 8 interceptors in Alaska, bringing the total to 44 nationwide by the end of 2017.”

During the test, an ICBM-class target was launched from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Multiple sensors provided target acquisition and tracking data to the Command, Control, Battle Management and Communication (C2BMC) system. The Sea-Based X-band radar, positioned in the Pacific Ocean, also acquired and tracked the target. The GMD system received the target tracking data and developed a fire control solution to intercept the target.

A ground-based interceptor was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and its exo-atmospheric kill vehicle intercepted and destroyed the target in a direct collision.

“The intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target is an incredible accomplishment for the GMD system and a critical milestone for this program,” said MDA Director Vice Adm. Jim Syring. “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. I am incredibly proud of the war fighters who executed this test and who operate this system every day.”

The test, designated Flight Test Ground-Based Interceptor (FTG)-15, will provide the data necessary to assess the performance of the GMD system and provide enhanced homeland defense capabilities.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.