The United States next month intends to assess its defenses against a possible long-range Iranian missile strike in a test expected to cost $150 million, Reuters reported (see GSN, Dec. 14).
U.S. Missile Defense Agency chief Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, speaking at a defense summit in Washington, said the missile drill would differ from past tests of the nation's missile defenses that have focused on a possible North Korean attack.
O'Reilly said the U.S. Ground-based Midcourse Defense would face a heightened challenge as the drill would test the system's ability to counter a simulated Iranian missile traveling at greater speed and more directly at the United States than a missile posited to be fired from North Korea.
"Previously, we have been testing the GMD system against a North Korean-type scenario," O'Reilly said.
"This next test ... is more of a head-on shot like you would use defending against an Iranian shot into the United States," he added.
In the exercise, a missile interceptor would be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to intercept a missile fired from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The aim is to eliminate the simulated threat above the north central Pacific Ocean, where the two projectiles would collide at a total velocity of greater than 17,000 miles an hour.
"Whenever we have a situation where we're taking on a missile more head-on than from the side, that increases the challenges," O'Reilly said (Stewart/Wolf, Reuters, Dec. 14).
Meanwhile, Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi told local media on Sunday that Tehran would soon test some of its missile systems, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
In recent years, Tehran has achieved significant success in manufacturing missiles, according to Xinhua. The country's two-stage Sajjil missile is believed to have a range of about 1,243 miles and its Shahab 3 ballistic missile can travel between 808 miles and 1,243 miles (Xinhua News Agency, Dec. 13).