Washington: The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency said on Tuesday that it successfully shot down a mock nuclear warhead simulating the speed and range of a potential North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
This was Pentagon’s first ICBM interceptor system test in the last three years. Prior to this, the system has carried out successful intercepts in nine out of 17 attempts dating back to 1999. The most recent test was in 2014.
In a statement, the agency said an unarmed rocket launched from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean was “destroyed” by a ground-based interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California as it traveled outside Earth’s atmosphere, reports the Fox news.
The test came two days after North Korea sucessfully tested a SCUD-type ballistic missile that landed in Sea of Japan. With a recent spate of missile launches, Pyongyang is understood to be moving closer to the capability of putting a nuclear warhead on such a missile.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon insists the long-planned test of its ground-based interceptor system is not solely about North Korea but is aimed at being able to challenge any threatening ICBM.
The test will, however, not confirm that the U.S. is capable of defending itself against an ICBM fired by North Korea.