The Pentagon on Tuesday will for the first time test its ability to shoot down an intercontinental ballistic missile using its own upgraded long-range interceptor missile in a test to counter a North Korean missile launch. The test, which will take place over the Pacific Ocean, comes after Pyongyang fired a short-range ballistic missile that travelled an estimated 248 miles, splashing down within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, CNN reported.
In a Monday tweet, US President Donald Trump joined the leaders of South Korea and Japan in condemning the test, saying that North Korea had “shown great disrespect” for China by “shooting off yet another ballistic missile”. The Pentagon said the test of its interceptor system is not solely about North Korea, and the test is aimed at being able to challenge any threatening intercontinental ballistic missile, including possibly from Iran in the future.
The interceptor missile will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and will attempt to intercept a simulated threat missile over the Pacific Ocean launched from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. This will be the first test of the interceptor using an upgraded “kill” vehicle — the part of the missile that would hit an incoming warhead. The test comes as the US has ramped up other missile defence efforts, including the deployment of the THAAD missile defence system to South Korea which is designed to counter short, medium and intermediate range missile threats.