US Will Try to Shoot Down an ICBM for 1st Time
Pentagon worried about possible nuclear missile from North Korea
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2017 2:15 PM CDT
This image made from video of a news bulletin aired by North Korea's KRT on Monday, May 22, 2017, shows what was said to be the Pukguksong-2 missile lifts off as it is test-launched at an undisclosed...   (KRT via AP Video)

(Newser) – For the first time ever, the US will attempt to shoot down an intercontinental-range missile speeding toward the homeland, the AP reports. The Pentagon has scheduled a test of its Ground-based Midcourse Defense system for next Tuesday. The test was announced three days after the director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency told Congress that North Korea is on an "inevitable" path toward a nuclear ICBM that could reach the US. "If left on its current trajectory the regime will ultimately succeed in fielding a nuclear-armed missile capable of threatening the United States homeland," Reuters quotes Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart as saying.

For next week's test, a target will be launched from an atoll in the Pacific. Mimicking an ICBM, it will be flying faster than previous test targets. An interceptor rocket will be launched into space from California, releasing a 5-foot-long "kill vehicle." If the test is a success, the kill vehicle will be guided into the path of the test target and destroy it over the ocean. But interceptors don't have the best track record. Only nine out of 17 tests since 1999 have been a success. The Pentagon describes it as being similar to hitting a bullet with a bullet. An expert on the missile defense system says it's "astonishing" the tests fail so often given they're "scripted for success."

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