Can the U.S. shoot down North Korea’s ballistic missiles? Odds are with us – mostly

Can the U.S. shoot down North Korea’s ballistic missiles?  Odds are with us – mostly
A ground-based interceptor at Fort Greely, AK. (Image: USA, Sgt. Jack W. Carlson III)

[Ed. – A few key points.  One, the odds are very good that our systems can shoot down the shorter-range missiles that would menace South Korea or Japan.  These are the ones most likely to be used  The odds go down if we’re trying to shoot down an ICBM headed for North America.  On the other hand, North Korea’s aim isn’t so good that ICBMs are guaranteed to hit if they’re not intercepted.  Note also that the logic of missile defense was never that every single last missile would be intercepted, but that enough would be intercepted to ensure against a catastrophic crippling of our counterstrike capabilities and national will.  Note further that the BMD program has made its tremendous strides in spite of being chronically shorted on funds, and pooh-poohed by the left, including many congressional Democrats.]

The U.S. breaks missile defense down into three phases: boost (on the way up), midcourse (in space) and terminal (on the way down).

If a North Korean missile were on a trajectory toward Japan, the first shot at it would likely be from a U.S. Navy destroyer, equipped with the Aegis system, designed to counter short and intermediate range missiles. …

[L]ast month, off the coast of Hawaii, the USS John Paul Jones successfully shot down a target missile similar in range to both Iranian and North Korean ballistic missiles deployed today. …

If South Korea were to be targeted by the North, the U.S. would likely employ “terminal” defenses, which is why it has been so anxious to move a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense anti-missile battery to the Korean peninsula. …

Since 2001, the agency says 75 of 92 hit-to-kill intercept attempts have been successful across all programs, including a perfect 13-for-13 record for THAAD.

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