Gruntworks Media Bunker – In recent months, North Korea has conducted several missile tests to try and expand their ballistic missile capability. This has increased the tensions between North Korea and the United States. The United States has responded by increasing its military presence in the China Sea.
As the threat of North Korea’s capability to develop a ballistic missile that could reach the United States increases, the U.S. military tested a new missile-defense system that can intercept and destroy an intercontinental ballistic missile in midair. On Tuesday, the U.S. military destroyed a mock intercontinental ballistic missile thousands of miles over the Pacific. This is a major step forward for this missile-defense program.
Defense officials released a statement saying, that the ground-based mid-course defense (GMD) system used a five-foot “kill vehicle” released from a larger ground-based interceptor missile to obliterate the mock ICBM. The mock ICBM was launched from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site in the Marshall Islands. The mock missile was met by an interceptor missile that was launched from a silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
In a statement released by Navy Vice Adm. Jim Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency, he said that the successful test of the GMD system is an incredible accomplishment to the defense program. He further stated that “the system is a very important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat.” This defense system is clearly being pushed through testing as a response to the increasing threat from North Korea.
This defense system is a very important part of the defense of the homeland. The GMD test was originally scheduled for testing last year, but was pushed back because the Missile Defense Agency made engineering changes to the interceptor. A report that was released on Tuesday from the Government Accountability Office said that the initial test last year indicated the GMD showed low reliability. This problem prompted the Pentagon’s top weapons tester, the Directorate of Operational Test and Evaluation, to redesign parts of the ground-based mid-course system.
Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said that the Tuesday test had nothing to do with the increasing threat that North Korea possess to the United States. But some believe that the timing of the test are a direct result of the recent tensions with North Korea. North Korea has continued to carry out nuclear and ballistic missile tests and threatened to attack U.S. bases both abroad and in the continental United States.
The Pentagon played down the need for a successful test ahead of time. Davis played down the importance of test, even though the defense system is a very important part of national security. The GMD test was conducted by the Missile Defense Agency, which includes the Air Force’s 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg and U.S. Northern Command, which oversees the defense of the United States at home.
The Pentagon stated that the missile-defense system has been ready for combat since 2004, but it had never been used in the field. The test history of the GMD indicates that the missile-defense system has a successes rate of four out of nine missile-intercept tests prior to Tuesday’s successful test. The last test that was conducted on the GMD was in June 2014.
In April, the Chief of Pacific Command, Navy Adm. Harry Harris, told the House Armed Services Committee that North Korea is “clearly in a position to threaten Hawaii today” with a ballistic missile attack and that the Pentagon should consider adding new ballistic missile interceptors and defensive radar there as a result. Harris stated the threat that North Korea poses is very real, and this technology would help lives in the event North Korea attacked the United States. He further stated that he believed that a ballistic missile architecture is sufficient to protect Hawaii, but it can be overwhelmed. He also added that although the defense system would help, someone would still have to make decisions on the ground and decide which missile to intercept and which ones not too. This would be a difficult decision for any commander. No date or time line has been released for the GMD to field units.