After Tuesday’s successful test of America’s GMD Missile Defense System, Navy Vice Adm. James D. Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency, told the press that the United States is ready to defend itself against ballistic missile threats levied by countries like North Korea or Iran.
The test saw an ICBM equipped with a mock-nuclear warhead launched from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Once the ICBM was in the air, target acquisition and tracking data was routed through various systems and used to launch counter-missile projectiles via the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system. Per the release provided by the MDA, the GMD projectile’s exo-atmospheric kill vehicle intercepted the ICBM somewhere over the Pacific Ocean and destroyed it.
I was confident before the test that we had the capability to defeat any threat that [North Korea or Iran] would throw at us,” Syring told reporters, “and I’m even more confident today, after seeing the intercept test yesterday, that we continue to be on that course.”
The GMD system is designed to be able to target an incoming ballistic missile at three possible points in its trajectory. These include the “the boost phase, from launch through ascent, 1-5 minutes; the midcourse phase, when the missile booster burns out and the missile coasts in space toward its target, up to 20 minutes; and the terminal phase, a brief period when the missile reenters the atmosphere,” according to the MDA website.