WASHINGTON (CBSLA.com) — The Pentagon said it has successfully shot down a mock warhead over the Pacific with an interceptor missile launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California.
This is the first time the United States has launched a missile to try to shoot down an incoming intercontinental ballistic missile or ICBM.
It has been described as trying to hit a bullet with a bullet-traveling faster than the speed of sound.
“This is important because the ground-based missile defense system has not been tested before with an ICBM, it’s been tested with shorter range missiles which don’t travel as fast,” said Bruce Bennett, one of the nation’s leading experts on strategic nuclear warfare.
The senior international defense researcher at Rand said the successful test came at a good time.
Just two days ago, North Korea completed its ninth missile test since the first of the year. The short-range ballistic missile traveled about 248 miles, splashing down within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
Bennett said North Korea has only tested short-range ballistic missiles, but if it ever launches an ICBM, Tuesday’s launch from Vandenberg AFB sent a powerful message to Kim Jong Un that he better think twice about aiming a nuclear missile at the United States.
“Kim Jong Un is not going to fire a missile at the United States if he knows that it’s going to be intercepted and destroyed because he knows then we will have to retaliate,” Bennette explained. “An adversary is deterred when he thinks the benefits of the action he takes do not exceed the cost he’s going to suffer. We’ve got to convince him that the costs are too great – not only using nuclear weapons but testing them.”