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Another Missile Defense Success (yawn...)

Isnt it funny how news like this is greeted with a collective yawn from most of the media?gmd-test.jpg

Its another example of what they call in the journalism world a dog bites man event.

Boeing announced this weekend a successful intercept of a ballistic missile in space of its mission representative exo-atmospheric kill vehicle. In the past, there would have been much made of this successful test, but now, its only news of a test fails the man bites dog event.

The test of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system began at 4:01 p.m. Eastern when a long-range ballistic missile target lifted off from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska. Seventeen minutes later, military operators launched an interceptor from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. As the interceptor flew toward the target, it received target data updates from the upgraded missile-warning radar at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. After flying into space, the interceptor released its exoatmospheric kill vehicle, which proceeded to track, intercept and destroy the target warhead.

The test, GMD's seventh intercept overall, was the second intercept with an operationally configured interceptor since September 2006.

WATCH THE MISSILE TEST VIDEO...

With another intercept under our belts, we have even greater confidence that the GMD system, if called upon in a real-world scenario, will defend the nation against a limited ballistic missile attack," said Scott Fancher, Boeing vice president and program director for GMD. The Boeing-led test was highly complex, involving a wide range of assets, including the Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX). SBX, a powerful new sea-based sensor developed by Boeing, tracked the target missile to prepare for the next GMD flight test, which will see SBX provide target updates to an in-flight interceptor for the first time.

I guess its an example of how far the missile defense debate has come. Its no longer about whether you can hit a bullet with a bullet, as opponents used to say, was impossible. Now the debate is more about whether a radar in the Czech Republic will alienate the increasingly paranoid Russian government.

GMD defends the nation against a limited number of long-range ballistic missiles, with interceptors deployed in underground silos at Vandenberg and Ft. Greely, Alaska. An integral element of the global ballistic missile defense system, GMD also consists of radars, other sensors, command-and-control facilities, communications terminals and a 20,000-mile fiber optic communications network. The U.S. government has announced plans to extend this capability to Europe.

Yes it has been expensive. Yes its been a long time coming. Yes there are many more hurdles to overcome. But the fact that this story gained little traction, is an even louder endorsement of the system than the actual space kill.

-- Christian

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