Pentagon announces ICBM interceptor system a success

A Ground-based Interceptor missile is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base

The missile defense shield also has a spotty record, achieving only ten successful intercepts in 18 tries, after accounting for the latest test.

"In school, 40% isn't a passing grade", added Coyle, who formerly headed the Pentagon's office of operational test and evaluation.

"We are replicating our ability to defend the United States of America from North Korea, today", Ellison said. "Iran also continues to develop more sophisticated missiles and approve the range and accuracy of current missile systems".

The Ground-based Midcourse Defense system is created to detect, intercept and destroy long-range ballistic missiles during their midcourse phase of flight.

Despite the success, the $244 million test didn't confirm that under wartime conditions the USA could intercept an intercontinental-range missile fired by North Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is attempting to develop an ICBM that can reach the US mainland.

On April 4, a KN-17 missile launch came just days before Chinese President Xi Jinping met with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago, during which the pair discussed how to curb North Korea's missile and nuclear programs.

That test involves firing a new version of the military's single long-range ground-based interceptor missile, which is now based in Alaska and California. Tuesday's ICBM target had never been tested before.

The interception is a move that the Pentagon says is akin to hitting a bullet with another bullet - though at far higher speeds.

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The Missile Defense Agency said it was the first live-fire test against a simulated ICBM for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense, managed by Boeing Co, and hailed it as an "incredible accomplishment". U.S. officials, however, will continue to evaluate the GMD's performance based upon telemetry and other data acquired during the test, the release added.

People watch as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense element of the USA ballistic missile defense system launches during a flight test from Vandenberg Air Force Base, May 30, 2017.

In January 2016, the missile agency launched an interceptor from Vandenberg to "fully flush out and fully test" the new thrusters, in Syring's words.

"We improve and learn from each test, regardless of the outcome".

What "very real threat" is he speaking of?

North Korea says its nuclear and missile programmes are a defence against perceived USA military threats. "Kim is attempting to prove that he has the capability to strike the U.S. mainland with a nuclear weapon".

This month alone the country has carried out nine missile launches. "The situation on the Korean peninsula is complex and sensitive, and we hope all relevant sides maintain calm and exercise restraint, ease the tense situation as soon as possible and put the issue back onto the correct track of peaceful dialogue", China's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Prior to Tuesday, the USA military had conducted 17 tests of its missile-defense system and nine were successful.

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