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Missile defense test a success

by Luke Massirio, staff writer

The United States Navy achieved success in defending against ballistic missiles fired from the across sea. In a Feb. 24 missile defense test, the USS Lake Erie intercepted a mock warhead fired just off the coast of Kaua‘i.

With the current flaunting of nuclear missiles by North Korea, the United States has made it a priority to develop an accurate missile defense system that would defend against a missile launch from countries such as North Korea, China, Japan, and Taiwan. The Navy considers this test a significant step towards an accurate defense system, since the last two attempts to intercept a missile fired from Alaska failed. This also is the first time the Navy used an actual operation missile rather then a test one. The Erie’s interception was the fifth hit out of six tests of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. Consequently the Navy is now equipping ships with this defense system which tracks short- and mid-range missiles.

 

While the Navy is strongly behind this defense system, Canada is not. Canada’s Prime Minister Paul Martin refused to sign on to the missile defense program. This is the case for many other countries as well. The defense program is controversial because many countries feel that installing this defense program will trigger a new arms race. However, the United States must install it because of the recent discovery that North Korea possesses as many as 10 nuclear weapons, some of which are capable of reaching Alaska and Hawai‘i.

To make the test seem more realistic, the Navy didn’t inform Erie crew members that the missile was being launched. “It was a tactically realistic scenario,” said John Young, the Navy’s assistant secretary for research. “The crew was in search mode and was not aware of the actual launch time,” which was 11:03 a.m. Just three minutes later, the missile was blasted out of the sky by an SM-3 missile launched from the Lake Erie. The Navy is hoping that the program will gain more support in case of any overseas attack. “It’s an interim capability, and it’s available,” Young said.

The test is a major step in defending Hawai‘i because it proves the United . Capability of intercepting missiles fired from as far as China and North Korea.

 

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