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Pentagon successfully tests ICBM defense system for first time

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On May 31, 2017, US military conducted a successful missile defence test involving a simulated attack by an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Details about the test of ICBM Defense system:

  • Firstly an ICBM-type missile was fired from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands toward the waters at south of Alaska.
  • Thereafter, a rocket was fired from the Ground-based Midcourse Defence (GMD) system from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California which deployed an ‘exo-atmospheric kill vehicle’ that smashed into the ICBM-type missile and thereby destroyed it completely.

US shield against North Korean Missiles:

The test was conducted in order to assess preparedness for countering any threats through ICBMs from North Korea.Pentagon successfully tests ICBM defense system for first time'

  • It is to be noted that North Korea has been frequently conducting missile tests, which defence experts have dubbed as repeated attempts to improvise its strike capability on US through ICBMs.
  • United States is at 9,000 km distance from North Korea. ICBMs have a minimum range of about 5,500 km, but some are designed to travel as far as 10,000 km.

About Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) System:

Ground-Based Midcourse Defense(GMD) is the United States’ anti-ballistic missile system for intercepting incoming warheads in its airspace, during the midcourse phase of ballistic trajectory

  • It is administered by the S.Missile Defense Agency (MDA) with technical support from US Army and US Air Force.
  • Defence experts within and outside US, believe that this system has limited reliability in shielding US from ICBMs as it has a low strike rate. In tests conducted from 1999 to 2014, GMD hit the target in only 9 out of 17 tests.
  • However, in the budget proposal for the fiscal year 2018, Pentagon has requested $7.9 billion for the Missile Defense Agency, which includes about $1.5 billion for the GMD program.