Key point: Realistic tests are key to ensuring the U.S. homeland can be protected from nuclear attack. And yet it looks like those tests aren’t being conducted properly.
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) isn’t testing its most powerful missile-interceptor enough, the Government Accountability Office claimed in a June 2019 report. The military bumped back one key trial multiple times over a period of 13 years.
This first appeared in June 2019 and is being reposted due to reader interest.
Equally troubling, many of the tests the MDA is conducting aren’t very realistic, the watchdog agency explained in its report. Laura Grego, a missile-defense expert with the Union of Concerned Scientists in Massachusetts, called the GAO report “remarkable.”
The GAO focused its attention on the Flight Test Ground-Based Interceptor 11 test, or FTG-11. That test, which took place in March 2019, involved a salvo of two Ground-Based Midcourse Defense missiles (GMD), which the United States has deployed in order to destroy nuclear-armed Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles heading for North America.
The MDA attempted its first trial interception with the GMD system in 1999.
Twenty years later on March 25, 2019, the target rocket in FTG-11 blasted off from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Space, ground- and sea-based sensors tracked the target. Four thousand miles away, missileers at the GMD site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California launched two 50-feet-tall Ground-Based Intercept missiles.
Kill vehicles separated — in essence, non-exploding warheads — separated from the GMI