Analysis

Successful US Missile Defense Test Engages Five Missiles
A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor missile is launched from Meck Island in the Kwajalein Atoll during the largest US missile defense test in history on October 24, 2012. (US Missile Defense Agency photo)
November 6, 2012
| Security
| Asia and the Pacific, Middle East and North Africa
Summary

Late last month, the largest U.S. missile test in history successfully engaged five separate targets at once, demonstrating significant advances in missile defense technology to defend the United States and its allies from missiles fired by rogue states such as North Korea and Iran. Although this system is not intended to be used against Russia’s huge and far more advanced nuclear missile arsenal, the test is likely to inspire increased heated rhetoric out of Moscow, which opposes the U.S missile defense system.

In an October 24 exercise designed to defend against an attack by five simultaneous ballistic missiles, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Army soldiers from the 94th and 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, U.S. Navy sailors aboard the USS Fitzgerald, and U.S. Air Force airmen from the 613th Air and Space Operations Center were able to intercept four out of the five missile targets. This result, in what was the largest and most complex missile defense test to date, was considered a major success for the program. 

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