Strategic Weapons: December 22, 2001


The seventh test of the missile defense system (3 Dec) was successful, with a kill vehicle destroying the target (rejecting a single decoy) as it did in the sixth test last June. The two tests were nearly identical (the booster for the target was different) and critics complain that test seven was a publicity stunt in which nothing new was learned. The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization insists that the seventh test was needed to confirm the equipment before test eight in February, which will use multiple decoys. (If the next test is not ready by February, it will have to wait until May as the Kwajalein missile range is booked for other tests.) The Navy had wanted to test its Theater Wide system this year but won't have its kill vehicle ready until spring.--Stephen V Cole


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