US shoots down mock warhead over Pacific

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"This system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat", he said.

A Moon spokesman said Tuesday the president is demanding an investigation into the THAAD deployment after finding out four launchers arrived in South Korea in addition to the original two that were installed in April.

Syring's agency sounded a note of caution.

The Pentagon prepared on Tuesday for a first-ever missile defense test involving a simulated attack by an intercontinental ballistic missile, like the one North Korea seeks to develop, in what experts saw as a high-stakes moment for the USA program.

The last time the US launched an intercept test was in June 2014 and it was successful.

The report went on to say the Defense Department continues to discover new failure modes during testing.

"I don't think it's acceptable for the United States of America to have an intercontinental ballistic missile - or a missile aimed at Australia - with a nuclear weapon on it, and depend on our ability to counter it with an anti-missile capability", McCain told Australia's ABC.

If it were the real thing, the US would launch multiple interceptors against an incoming ICBM so if one missed, the second - or third - might hit it, Martin reports.

The U.S. military on Tuesday successfully tested its ground-based missile defenses in an attack scenario.

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The unprecedented test is, in part, a response to North Korea's heightened threats of nuclear war - which have continued up through this week.

The U.S. military showed that it could sucessfully shoot down an incoming warhead - one day after North Korea warned of a sinister "gift package" ready for the United States.

Hailing yesterday's "successful" missile launch, the North Korean leader insisted that his country will take a "greater leap forward" in developing the proficiency of their strategic weapons.

The rogue state is now said to be mastering its intercontinental ballistic missile technology to enhance the precision of its rockets, with Monday's launch said to be a big step towards that aim.

In a tweet Monday, President Donald Trump condemned the test.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has warned that if a diplomatic solution can not be found for the situation with North Korea, "it would be a catastrophic war if this turns into a combat".

The US Navy said its aircraft carrier strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson, also planned a drill with another US nuclear carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, in waters near the Korean peninsula.

A ground-based interceptor launched Tuesday from Southern California's Vandenberg Air Force Base will target a simulated incoming warhead as part of a US defense system test. The target was an intercontinental-range missile fired from a test range on Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific. During the July 2013 test, the kill vehicle failed to separate from the booster rocket.

The MDA's announcement says this test was the first live-fire test against an ICBM-class target - not, as many headlines have already claimed, the first successful interception. It was not a mock-up of an actual North Korean ICBM, and details of its exact capabilities weren't made public.

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