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US missile defence test fails: Pentagon


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WASHINGTON (PTI): America's missile defence system failed on Friday in a test over the Pacific, with an interceptor failing to hit an incoming ballistic missile, the Pentagon said. The miss represented yet another setback for the costly ground-based interceptors, which have not had a successful test result since 2008.

The test's objective was to have an interceptor, launched from Vandenberg air base in California, knock out a long-range ballistic missile fired from a US military test site at Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands. But "an intercept was not achieved," US Missile Defence Agency spokesman Richard Lehner said in a brief statement. "

Programme officials will conduct an extensive review to determine the cause or causes of any anomalies which may have prevented a successful intercept," it said. The anti-missile weapon has run into repeated technical problems, with tests delayed after two failures in 2010. The United States has 30 of the ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, at a cost of about $34 billion.

They are supposed to counter the potential threat posed by North Korea, which has tried to develop long-range ballistic missiles. The Pentagon wants to deploy an additional 14 ground-based interceptors to bases in Alaska, at a cost of about $1 billion, also in response to what Washington deems a growing threat from North Korea.

Some lawmakers also are pushing to open a new missile defence site on the country's East Coast, in case Iran or other adversaries obtain long-range missiles. Critics of the missile defence program are sure to seize on the test result as further proof that the system faces insurmountable technical hurdles.

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