Missile defense system test fails off California coast

Missile Defense test

A recent test of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense missile defense system has failed. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

A recent test of a missile defense system has failed. The track record of these systems — missiles that target missiles — has never been good, and they have been a money pit in defense spending for years. There hasn’t been a successful missile defense system invented yet.

Another missile defense system test has failed

The recent test of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense, or GMD, long range missile defense system was conducted off the course of California by the Missile Defense Agency. The test did not go as anticipated, as the anti-missile missile failed to hit the target, but the Pentagon takes heart that at least the target, or incoming long range missile, and the intercepting missile, or “kill vehicle,” both launched, according to CNN. The test pitted a long range incoming dummy missile launched from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands against an interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Both successfully launched, but the kill vehicle failed to find its target.

Few successes to boast of

To date, Boeing’s modern missile defense system, deployed in California and Alaska, has successfully shot down eight of 15 targets in testing, which is a 53.3 percent success rate. This test has not had an official reason for the failure, but it possibly is due to the radar array, which is used to steer the interceptor missile to its target, called X-Band. The X-Band array is housed on a customized floating oil rig, and is supposed to generate vital information about incoming targets. A previous in test in January this year also failed to hit its target. The last successful test of the GMD was in December of 2008, when an intercepting kill vehicle found its target, but some say that may have been a coincidence.

History of failures

There hasn’t been much success in  missile defenses. Various systems and technologies have been developed and tested over the years, and aside from a few limited deployments, there have been few successes to speak of. There has been more than $100 billion spent on missile defense systems in the last 30 years, beginning with the Strategic Defense Initiative under President Reagan. No anti-missile system has managed a 100 percent success rate in testing.



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