Not Quite Ready

Donald Rumsfeld told reporters in Alaska Sunday that America’s fledgling missile defense capability needs more testing, but “with each passing month [it] has become more capable.” However, the US Defense Secretary wants to see a full system test, “where we actually put all the pieces” together to see if the system can, in fact, hit a warhead in flight. In contrast, the head of the Missile Defense Agency, Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry Obering III, expressed confidence both before and after Pyongyang’s July 4 fireworks that the US system could have shot down North Korea’s long-range missile. There is no plan to have Thursday’s demonstration hit a test target vehicle, but Obering told reporters it will be “about as realistic as you can get.” MDA expects to test the system’s ability to actually hit a target vehicle in December.