The US State Department said Friday that the country’s anti-aircraft defense systems would shoot down any ballistic missile from North Korea launched to Guam, but military experts in the field said the Pentagon was completely mistaken.
By stating that the United States would destroy a North Korean ballistic missile with an open-air nuclear warhead, the Pentagon misled not only the public, but also its own government, say military experts in missile defense technology.
The United States will find it hard to kill North Korean nuclear missiles, a view shared by Joe Cirincione, president of the world-wide nuclear security organization, the Plowshares Fund, and Kingston Reif , Director of Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy at the Arms Control Association.
According to the two experts, the United States is promoting its missile defense systems while none of them is capable of intercepting a North Korean ballistic missile.
When Pyongyang launched a missile over the territory of Japan, it flew at such altitudes that no American system could have reached it, said Mr.Cirincione in a report for Defense One.
“770 kilometers above Japan at the peak of its flight trajectory. Neither Japan nor the United States could have intercepted the missile. None of the existing ballistic missile defense weapons has such scope, “he said.
US missile defense consists of three layers, including the Patriot, THAAD and Aegis systems, with a range of 12, 125 and 1350 miles respectively, according to a table of the Business Insider . However, they are designed to shoot a missile at its final stage, as it falls from the sky to its target. Although the US has invested $ 320 billion in its missile defense systems in recent decades, none of the systems is capable of reaching an intermediate-range ballistic missile mid-way or just after launch.
So they will shoot the missile at the final stage, will not it? False, experts say. Although the Aegis system has shown exceptional results in tests against short- and medium-range targets, they must be considered skeptically, according to MMReif and Cirincione.
“Only one of these tests was conducted against a class target similar to the North Korean Hwansong-12,” Reif told Fox News.
“THAAD, Patriot and especially Aegis have done a good job in the tests, but they are tests done to succeed, simplified and carefully staged, which generally used short-range targets,” said Mr. Cincincione.
According to the director of the Plowshares Fund, currently, the United States has a one in two chance to shoot down a missile similar to the Hwasong-12. Moreover, it would only be possible in the case where Pyongyang does not use countermeasures, such as lures (some as simple as a balloon), electronic jammers and metallized strips.
There is also a problem with Aegis launchers based at sea: despite their flexibility over land-based fixed systems, ships need to be precisely “in the right place at the right time” to intercept a missile, experts said.
“It would be a very demanding task that would involve a significant amount of approximation because ships should be in the right place at the right time to successfully intercept at sea,” said Reif, quoted by Defense One.