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
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.