U.S. missile defense test hits target

AFP-JIJI

The ground-based system intended to shield the continental United States intercepted a simulated incoming missile over the Pacific Ocean for the first time Sunday, the Pentagon said.

The Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system, which is managed by Boeing and has a $40 billion price tag, aims to protect against long-range ballistic missiles from so-called rogue states such as North Korea and Iran.

The successful test followed the system’s failure to hit a simulated missile in five of eight previous tests since former President George W. Bush’s administration launched the program in 2004.

President Barack Obama’s administration has announced it plans to spend about $1.3 billion on 14 more interceptors, but only if the closely watched test was successful.

The interceptor missile was fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and struck a dummy intermediate-range ballistic missile launched from the U.S. Army’s Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.