U.S. ground-based interceptor rockets would “likely” knock out a long-range North Korean missile before it could reach the American mainland, the Pentagon’s independent testing official said today.
“I believe we have a reasonable chance” of an intercept, Charles McQueary, director of operational test and evaluation, said in an interview as North Korea defied international condemnation of a nuclear test with another short-range missile launch.
“I’d put it ‘likely’ — than ‘highly likely’ — as opposed to putting it ‘unlikely,” he said on his last day in office after almost three years as the top weapons evaluator for the Defense Department.
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McQueary’s office monitors and critiques the effectiveness of the nascent Boeing Co.-managed $35.5 billion ground-based system of what is now 28 interceptors placed since mid-2004 in silos at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
North Korea on April 4 attempted to launch a satellite on what some analysts said was a three-stage rocket capable of carrying a warhead that might reach the U.S. The reclusive regime has launched six short-range missiles this week that, while not able to strike the U.S., have refocused attention on American defenses.