The United States tested its Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system Tuesday by intercepting an intercontinental ballistic missile target for the first time. The test ICBM was fired from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, and the interceptor launched from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. The US Missile Defense Agency conducted the test with the support of the Air Force’s 30th Space Wing, the Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, and US Northern Command. “The intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target is an incredible accomplishment for the GMD system and a critical milestone for this program,” said MDA Director Vice Adm. Jim Syring. “This system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat.” In 2014, the US successfully tested the GMD against a long-range missile after a number of failed attempts between 2010 and 2013. The GMD is designed to destroy intermediate and long-range ballistic missiles threatening the homeland.
The Missile Defense Agency requested $7.9 billion in its Fiscal 2018 budget request, including $1.5 billion for the GMD, according to a Defense Department release. The agency is “on track” to increase the number of ground-based interceptors from 36 to 44 by the end of 2017, said Gary Pennett, MDA director of operators. “The 2018 [MDA] budget request also would fund flight and system ground testing of homeland defenses, continue developing the redesigned kill vehicle, enhance the nuclear stockpile reliability program, and expand the GBI battlespace,” according to the release. The United States has interceptors at Vandenberg and Fort Greely, Alaska.