[Ed. – This is a big development, proving the capability of mobile, shipborne defense to expand beyond intermediate-range missile intercept. Naturally, naysayers are coming out of the woodwork and lining up to be interviewed by AP. On one point: far from being an impediment to arms control agreements, the prospect of effective missile defense is, as Reagan proved, an incentive for better ones.]
In a first for the Pentagon’s push to develop defenses against intercontinental-range ballistic missiles capable of striking the United States, a missile interceptor launched from a U.S. Navy ship at sea hit and destroyed a mock ICBM in flight on Tuesday, officials said.
Previous tests against ICBM targets had used interceptors launched from underground silos in the United States. If further, more challenging tests prove successful, the ship-based approach could add to the credibility and reliability of the Pentagon’s existing missile defense system.
Navy Vice Adm. Jon Hill, director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, which conducted Tuesday’s test, called the result “an incredible accomplishment and critical milestone” for the program. He said this ship-based approach, if augmented with more capable systems for detecting and tracking hostile missiles in flight, could provide “a hedge against unexpected developments in the missile threat.”