While such tests are probably contingent on not having already gotten into a full-scale war with North Korea by then, the Pentagon today announced its intention to conduct a pair of tests in May aimed at proving their ability to shoot down North Korean missiles.
The tests are to take place in the Pacific, off the coast of California, with Pentagon officials saying they believe the upgraded missiles have a better chance of intercepting intermediate-range missiles than their earlier models, which Pentagon officials conceded offered little capability to shoot down even limited numbers of missiles.
The US is keen to add to its missile defense systems deployed around Korea, aimed at protecting both South Korea and Japan from North Korean missiles. Such programs have in the past proven to be not very cost effective, and claims of their capability often based on “best case scenario” testing conditions.
In North Korea, where concerns of an imminent US attack have been growing, the ability to shoot down ballistic missiles is likely of limited value, as North Korea’s missiles have been failing at an enormous rate, and the nation’s actual retaliatory capabilities are heavily based on artillery, not missiles.
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