VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, CALIF. (AP) - An interceptor missile launched from California on Wednesday failed to hit a target fired from a Pacific atoll 4,000 miles away during a test of an anti-ballistic missile defense system, the Air Force announced.
The missile, called a ground-based interceptor, lifted off from coastal Vandenberg Air Force Base at 12:03 a.m. and released a device called an Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle, or EKV, that was to plow into a target missile fired from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
The cause of the failure will be investigated before another test is scheduled, Lehner said.
It was the fourth launch of a fully operational interceptor from Vandenberg, 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The $100 million launch originally was planned for Tuesday, but it was delayed by poor weather.
The missile agency noted that the Sea-Based X-Band Radar, a critical component of the system, performed as planned. The radar, which cost more than $800 million, is mounted on an oceangoing-platform that can sail to any point where the military needs to track missiles. The 280-foot-tall radar can identify baseball-size objects thousands of miles away. It was built by Raytheon Co. for the Boeing Co., the prime contractor on the project.
Ground-based interceptors are in place at Fort Greeley, Alaska, in addition to Vandenberg.
In recent years the military has held a series of tests of technologies to defend against long-range ballistic missiles that might be fired from countries such as North Korea.
Other components of the missile shield could include sea-launched missiles and lasers mounted in planes.
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