Strategic Weapons: January 25, 2000


MISSILE DEFENSE FAILS TEST: The 18 Jan test of an exoatmospheric kill vehicle failed when the infrared seeker system shut down six seconds before impact, leaving the target (launched from Vandenberg AFB, California) and interceptor (launched from Kwajelein atoll in the Pacific) to sail past each other. The rest of the system worked as planned, including the powerful new X-band radar prototype, the computerized battle management system, the tracking radars, and the early warning satellites. The interceptor launched successfully, separated properly from its booster, scanned the stars twice to check its own position, and detected the oncoming target. But the seeker simply quit working for reasons no one can explain before the intercept was made. The intercept test cost $100 million. The interceptor is 55 inches long, weighs 121 pounds, and is built by Raytheon. This is a setback for the controversial system, intended to begin deploying 100 interceptors in Alaska sometime in 2005. The next test is set for April; President Clinton is scheduled to make the deployment decision in June. This was the second test; the interceptor destroyed the target in the first test (although it was aimed directly for it and had only minimal maneuvering to do). Republican presidential candidates Bush and McCain both favor deploying the system as quickly as possible. Democratic candidate Bradley opposes it, considering the US nuclear arsenal adequate as a deterrent. Vice President Gore says that several factors, including cost and geopolitics, must be considered. --Stephen V Cole


Article Archive

Strategic Weapons: Current 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close