VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE (KABC) —
Officials at Vandenberg Air Force Base sent up an interceptor to shoot down a simulated warhead in a drill designed to prepare for any North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile strike.
Vandenberg has launched test missiles in the past to perfect the military’s missile defense system.
Tuesday’s launch was different. Base officials successfully took out a missile programmed to act like an intercontinental ballistic missile that was launched from the Marshall Islands.
“The intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target is an incredible accomplishment for the GMD system and a critical milestone for this program,” said MDA Director Vice Adm. Jim Syring.
“This system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat. I am incredibly proud of the warfighters who executed this test and who operate this system every day.”
Though Tuesday’s test was successful, the interceptor previously had a spotty track record — it was only successful nine out of 17 times.
This particular test was last conducted in June 2014, and it was a success.
In the test, the Vandenberg rocket releases a 5-foot-long device called a “kill vehicle.”
It uses internal guidance systems to steer into the path of the oncoming missile’s warhead, destroying it by force of impact.
This is all happening after North Korea continues to conduct one missile test after the next over the past few months.
Kim Jong Un has yet to test an intercontinental ballistic missile, but officials believe the country is heading in that direction.
Kim has vowed to create a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching U.S. territory.
North Korea’s latest missile test, which was conducted over the weekend, landed in waters off the coast of Japan.