WASHINGTON (AP) – The Pentagon says it has shot down a mock warhead over the Pacific in a key success for the United States missile defense program.
The goal of having a reliable defense against long-range missiles has taken on added urgency with North Korea’s vow to threaten the U.S. with a nuclear-armed missile.
The test was the first of its kind in nearly three years. And it was the first test ever targeting an intercontinental-range missile like North Korea is developing.
The military says an interceptor rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California slammed into the warhead as it traveled outside the Earth’s atmosphere after being launched from a test range on a Pacific atoll.
The $244 million test did not confirm the U.S. is capable of defending itself against an intercontinental-range missile fired by North Korea. The Pentagon is still incorporating engineering upgrades to a missile interceptor that has yet to be fully tested in realistic conditions.