Jump to search Jump to main navigation Jump to main content Jump to footer navigation

Global Security Newswire

Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues

Produced by
NationalJournal logo

Critical Long-Range Missile Intercept Test Fails to Take Out Target

A U.S. Ground-based Interceptor lifts off in a 2008 trial launch. The interceptor failed to shoot down a mock enemy ballistic missile during a key test on Friday (U.S. Missile Defense Agency photo). A U.S. Ground-based Interceptor lifts off in a 2008 trial launch. The interceptor failed to shoot down a mock enemy ballistic missile during a key test on Friday (U.S. Missile Defense Agency photo).

A high-profile critical test on Friday of a troubled U.S. long-range interceptor failed to eliminate an incoming dummy ballistic missile, the U.S. Defense Department announced.

A target was launched from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean and, in response, a Ground-based Interceptor -- a major component of the nation's Ground-based Midcourse Defense system -- was fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. "Although a primary objective was the intercept of a long-range ballistic missile target ... an intercept was not achieved," the press release states.

Several organizations participated in the test, including the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency; U.S. Northern Command; the Joint Functional Component Command, Integrated Missile Defense; and the Air Force's 30th Space Wing. Officials will undertake a thorough assessment of the test to understand what caused the failure, according to the release.

The GBI system, which is the primary means of defending the homeland United States against ICBM strikes by North Korea and Iran, has not had a successful test intercept since 2008. To date, only  50 percent of the 16 intercept attempts have been successful, Reuters reported.

The Defense Department last week said it would proceed with plans to acquire 14 new GBI missiles, at a cost of roughly $1 billion, for fielding by 2017 in Alaska, regardless of the outcome of Friday's assessment. The test was previously reported to involve a first-generation exoatmospheric kill vehicle that is already fielded on silo-based GBI missiles in Alaska and California.

Philip Coyle, the Pentagon's former top weapons testing official, in provided remarks said the latest test failure shows the technology "is something the U.S. military, and the American people, cannot depend upon," the New York Times reported.

Note to our Readers

GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

NTI Analysis

  • Iranian Ballistic Missile Models

    Nov. 19, 2014

    This page contains interactive 3D missile models for Iran. Users can drag the model by pressing and holding their mouse’s scroll wheel. They can zoom in and out on the model by rolling their scroll wheel up and down, and can orbit the model by clicking and dragging their left mouse button.

  • 3D Missile Model Collection

    Nov. 19, 2014

    The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies has created a series of 3D models of ballistic and cruise missiles for the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

Country Profile

Flag of United States

United States

This article provides an overview of the United States’ historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

Learn More →