The US Missile Defence Agency has admitted that its latest test of its anti-ballistic missile interceptor missile failed to strike its target. The test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defence System missile occured on 5 July. It involved launching a target “ballistic” missile from the Kwajelein Atoll launch site in the Pacific followed by the launch intereptor missile carrying an upgraded (Capability Enhancement 1) Exoatrmospheric Kill Vehicle from the Vandenberg Air Force base in California. Unfortunately the planned interception and destruction of the target missile failed to take place.
This was the third failure in a row of the system which is designed to protect the continental United States of America from a limited hostile missile attack using the interceptors based at Fort Greely, Alaska. The previous two failures were in 2010.
While the US Navy ship-launched shorter range Standard Missile SM-3 anti-ballistic missile test programme is going from strength to strength, the larger and theoretically more capable Ground-based missile defence system has had eight failures out of 15 attempts.
Comment by David Todd: The US Department of Defense recently decided to increase the number of interceptor missiles based at Fort Greely, Alaska from 26 to 40. With a strike rate of less than one in two, it is no wonder that they wanted to increase the number of missiles they can launch.