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North Korea is stepping up its nuclear weapons programme, testing ballistic missiles as it seeks to develop a reliable long-range launch carrier.
But the United States is making progress in the defense department, having successfully shot down an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) this week.
The live-fire test saw the USA’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system used to detect and intercept the missile.
“During the test, an ICBM-class target was launched from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Multiple sensors provided target acquisition and tracking data to the Command, Control, Battle Management and Communication (C2BMC) system. The Sea-Based X-band radar, positioned in the Pacific Ocean, also acquired and tracked the target. The GMD system received the target tracking data and developed a fire control solution to intercept the target,” read an excerpt from the Missile Defense Agency website.
The USA managed to shoot down an “ICBM-class” target, simulating a real long-range nuclear missile
A missile was launched from California, containing an “exo-atmospheric kill vehicle” which homed in on the missile, using kinetic energy to destroy the target.
“The impact is outside the Earth’s atmosphere using only the kinetic force of the direct collision to destroy the target warhead,” reads a description of the system’s capabilities.
In other words, the ballistic missiles are supposed to be destroyed before they shed their multiple warheads.