An interceptor missile launched from the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site at Vandenberg Air Force Base yesterday, moves to its target. Image Credit: Associated Press
Taepodong-2 Missile Score: USA-2 / North Korea-0
Yesterday, the U.S. "officially" tested its ballistic missile defense system with resounding results.
Last July 4th, North Korea tested the viability of its missile program with less than stellar success. Some speculate that the USA had a hand in the failure of North Korea's Taepodong-2 that ended up "landing" into the ocean in the Sea Of Japan.
This from a dispatch issued July 5th, 2006 - CNN -
North Korea tested a long-range missile and several smaller missiles, U.S. sources told CNN. Graphic Credit: CNN
U.S. officials: North Korea tests long-range missile
Wednesday, July 5, 2006; Posted: 12:03 a.m. EDT (04:03 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- North Korea test-fired a long-range missile and five shorter-range rockets early Wednesday, but the closely watched long-range test failed within a minute, U.S. officials said.
The tests began shortly after 3:30 a.m. local time (2:30 p.m. Tuesday ET) and lasted for about five hours.
The Taepodong-2 missile, which some analysts believed capable of hitting the western United States, failed after about 40 seconds, U.S. officials said.
The U.N. Security Council planned to meet Wednesday morning to discuss North Korea's actions.
North Korean Foreign Ministry officials confirmed the tests Wednesday to reporters for two Japanese broadcasters, NHK and TV Tokyo.
U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley described the missile launches as "provocative behavior," but said they posted no immediate threat to the United States.
Washington dispatched Christopher Hill, its top negotiator in the six-party talks with the two Koreas, Japan, China and Russia, to consult with U.S. allies in Asia after the tests, Hadley said.
Hill has been the top U.S. negotiator in the six-party talks aimed at convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.
A statement from the White House said the United States "strongly condemns" the launches and North Korea's "unwillingness to heed calls for restraint from the international community."
"We are consulting with international partners on next steps," the statement said.
Intelligence agencies around the region had been watching preparations for the long-range test, but the shorter-range missiles were launched from a different site. At least four of those missiles were variants of the Soviet-era Scud series, with ranges estimated from about 100 to over 600 miles.
The Taepodong-2 landed about 200 miles west of Japan in the Sea of Japan, a U.S. military source said.
A spokesman for South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said after a National Security Council meeting Wednesday that North Korea must take responsibility for events resulting from its firing of the missiles.
"It's very difficult technology. They very clearly have not mastered it," he said. "Most estimates are they will not master it for another 10 years."
And on Monday, North Korea's state-run media accused the United States of harassing it and vowed to respond to any pre-emptive attack "with a relentless annihilating strike and a nuclear war with a mighty nuclear deterrent." (Watch why North Korea is talking about annihilating the U.S. -- 2:04)
The White House has dismissed that threat as "hypothetical." (Full story)
But the U.S. Northern Command increased security measures at its Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station in Colorado Springs, Colo., a few weeks ago, a military official confirmed Tuesday.
The base is the seat of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, and some of its command-and-control operations might have been used if the United States attempted to use its ballistic missile interceptors -- which have a mixed record of success -- to shoot down a potential Taepodong-2 test.
Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, told CNN that two interceptor missiles were activated at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in anticipation of the test and could have been fired by controllers at NORAD. Lehner said nine other interceptors were activated at Fort Greely, Alaska.
So now it is official that the USA can shoot down NK's Taepodong-2 missile.
For North Korea's part, they issued a statement claiming that the successful test carried out by the USA yesterday was a provacative "Act-Of War" ... to that, we at MAXINE say "Bring It On!"
Head of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency Air Force Lt Gen Henry Obering told a briefing this was about as close as "we can come to an end-to-end test of our long-range missile defense system." Image Credit: earthtimes.org
Excerpts from The Washington Times -
U.S. test missile hits a Korean bull's-eye
By Bill Gertz - THE WASHINGTON TIMES - September 2, 2006
The U.S. missile defense system yesterday shot down an incoming dummy warhead simulating the last-stage trajectory of a North Korean Taepodong-2 missile, a milestone that U.S. officials expect to counter critics of earlier tests.
It was the first time a dummy North Korean missile was intercepted, and the sixth successful intercept since 1999, said officials from the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency.
"What we did today is a huge step in terms of our systematic approach to continuing to field, continuing to deploy and continuing to develop a missile defense system for the United States, for our allies, our friends, our deployed forces around the world," said Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, director of the Missile Defense Agency.
He said there is "good chance" the system would be successful against a Taepodong-2 launched from North Korea.
Seven North Korean missiles launched July 4 included a long-range Taepodong-2 that failed less than a minute after launch.
Pentagon officials said the warhead was destroyed in outer space above a point several hundred miles west of Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
The test began with a target missile fired from the Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska, at 1:22 p.m. and its last stage was rammed by the high-speed interceptor launched from Vandenberg 17 minutes later. The interceptor used data gathered from an early warning radar located at Beale Air Force Base near Sacramento, Calif., and electronics that were used to track and identify the 4-foot-long warhead and guide it into a high-speed, midspace collision.
Both missiles were traveling at 15,000 to 18,000 mph, making the intercept a difficult technical challenge for what the Pentagon calls the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System. The system uses sensors in space, at sea and on the ground, along with communication links stretching from Japan to Colorado.
North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland issued a statement, carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, saying the test "clearly shows that it is the U.S. which is increasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula and threatening war against our country." As a result, Pyongyang will boost its "self-defensive deterrent," a phrase North Korea often uses for its nuclear program.
Unlike earlier tests, the interceptor was not launched from nearby Fort Greely, Alaska. Its success is expected to counter critics who said the Missile Defense Agency had been using artificial conditions and equipment for its previous tests, instead of realistic weapons trajectories and operational conditions.
"This test validated the confidence that I've expressed in the past with the performance of the system." Gen. Obering told reporters.
"We did intercept the re-entry vehicle, and we did use the operational radar data to provide the initial track for that intercept, and the kill vehicle performed its own discrimination and targeting of the kill vehicle," the general said.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld applauded the result, saying it will "increase confidence" in missile defense capability, but warned that the system is not perfected. [ed. yea ... right!]
Asked when a realistic "end-to-end" test of the system could be held, Gen. Obering said: "Well, you know, I don't want to ask the North Koreans to launch against us. That would be a realistic end-to-end test. Short of that, this is about as good as it gets with respect to that."
You just havta' love this last statement from an obviously delighted carreer Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, director of the Missile Defense Agency - "This is about as good as it gets!"