Monday, July 28, 2014         

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Mock ballistic missile defense test scheduled

By William Cole


The U.S. Missile Defense Agency said it will attempt to knock down a simulated ballistic missile launched from a ship's deck off Kauai by intercepting it with a rocket fired from the Pacific Missile Range Facility.

The ground-based Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, part of the U.S. missile defense shield, is attempting to improve on six successful intercept tests.

Pam Rogers, a spokeswoman for the Missile Defense Agency, said the test is planned "within the next few days," but she could not provide the exact date.

The simulated enemy ballistic missile will be launched from the deck of the decommissioned 603-foot amphibious assault ship Tripoli, which is used as a launch platform and whose dilapidated appearance draws perplexed looks when it is tied up in Pearl Harbor.

The Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Army's 6th Air Defense Artillery Brigade from Fort Bliss, Texas, will conduct the THAAD test.

A December THAAD test on Kauai was scrubbed after the target was released from a C-17 cargo aircraft and it failed to deploy properly, officials said.

The upcoming test will involve a launch of an interceptor from Kauai against a single unitary "threat-representative" ballistic missile target inside the atmosphere.

The mobile THAAD system is intended to destroy ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere in the final, or terminal, phase of flight and uses "hit-to-kill" technology utilizing kinetic energy to destroy an incoming warhead.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates noted THAAD capabilities as a defense in June 2009 when North Korea threatened to test-fire ballistic missiles toward Hawaii. North Korea launched seven "Scud-type" missiles on July 4 that flew about 250 miles.

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