Operational Missile Defense Test a Total Success
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 1, 2006 A test of the Ground-based Missile Defense System today was a total success, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry A. Obering III, the director of the Missile Defense Agency.
Obering called today’s test, the first operational one for the system, a huge step in fielding of the missile defense shield. He said he feels good about the capability for the United States to defend itself from an attack from a rogue nation.
The test was the most realistic to date without a nation like North Korea launching the real thing, the general said.
“The test we conducted today was significant in the fact that, as the next step in a progression, we launched an operational interceptor out of an operational site at Vandenberg Air Force Base, (Calif.). It was conducted by operational crews, manning operational fire and control systems in Colorado Springs, (Colo.). It was conducted with the support of operational radar in California, also manned by warfighters, and it was against a very threat-representative target,” Obering said.
The general said the crews cheered when it became apparent that they had hit the mock warhead in space.
Officials in Alaska launched the target from Fort Greely at 1:23 p.m. EDT. Crews launched the interceptor from Vandenberg at 1:39 p.m. The “hit-to-kill” interceptor hit the mock warhead over the Pacific at 1:46 p.m.
“I am pleased that today's test of our ballistic missile defense system appears to have been a success,” Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in a written statement. “Successful tests such as these increase confidence in the approach to developing an initial missile defense capability. These tests provide knowledge and experience that will be used to improve our nation's capability.”
Both Rumsfeld and Obering stressed that further tests will be conducted on the system once the “gigabytes and gigabytes” worth of data from this test is processed and analyzed. “While today's test was a success, the test program is by no means complete,” Rumsfeld said. “Tests will continue, some of which will be successful and some will not. This was a challenging test, and the tests will become even more challenging in the period ahead.”
The next test is set for December, Obering said. Depending on the read-out from the test today, that one may use decoys and different countermeasures to try to confuse the kill vehicle.