The U.S. military on Tuesday conducted a flight test to exercise the ground-based mid-course defence element of the nation’s ballistic missile defence system.
The launch was scheduled to occur between 3 p.m. and 7p.m., the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement.
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency, the U.S. Air Force’s 30th Space Wing and U.S. Northern Command are conducting the test, Pentagon spokesman, Jeff Davis, said.
The test involved a threat representative intercontinental ballistic missile class target to be fired from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site in the Marshall Islands and a ground-based interceptor from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
“This is the first test event against an ICBM-class target for the ground-based mid-course defense system.
“Programme officials will evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.
“A release and video are expected from the Missile Defense Agency.
“Ballistic missile proliferation has continued to be a concern for the U.S. as additional countries acquired a greater number of ballistic missiles,” Mr. Davis said.
Those countries, according to Mr. Davis, are increasing the range and incorporating ballistic missile defence countermeasures and making them more complex, survivable, reliable and accurate.
The Pentagon spokesman highlighted two countries of concern: North Korea and Iran.
While today’s test was not timed because of recent North Korean actions, he said, North Korea is one of the reasons why the U.S. has the capability.
“North Korea has expanded the size and the sophistication of its ballistic missile forces from close-range ballistic missiles to intercontinental ballistic missiles.
“They continue to conduct test launches, as we saw even this weekend, while also using dangerous rhetoric that suggests that they would strike the United States homeland,” he said.
In addition, Iran continues to develop more sophisticated missiles and improve the range and accuracy of current missile systems, he said.
“Their ballistic missile capability will continue to threaten U.S. strategic interests in the Middle East.
“Iran’s overall defence strategy relies on a substantial inventory of theatre ballistic missiles capable of striking targets throughout the region,” the Pentagon spokesperson said.