Boeing missile defense system fails

LOS ANGELES — The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency once again missed hitting its desired target during flight test of an interceptor missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base, northwest of Santa Barbara.

The failure of the $214 million test Friday involved a ground-based defense system, designed by Boeing Co., to defend the U.S. from long-range ballistic missile attacks.

The Missile Defense Agency now has a testing record of eight hits out of 16 intercept attempts with the “hit-to-kill” warheads. The last successful intercept occurred in December 2008.

Intercept testing of the system was halted in early 2011 after errors resulted in two failed intercept tests in 2010 using a newer interceptor. The technology wasn’t used Friday, but will be tested next year.

During the test, a target missile was fired at 11:30 a.m. PDT from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Five minutes later, a three-stage interceptor was launched from a silo at Vandenberg.

After blastoff, the booster is designed to deploy a kill vehicle made by Raytheon Co. to hit the target at a designated point in space.

The kill vehicle is designed to lock on and eliminate high-speed ballistic missile warheads in space using nothing more than the sheer force of impact, known as a “hit-to-kill” defense, according to Raytheon.

The Missile Defense Agency did not yet know the cause of test failure. The agency said it is reviewing what occurred during the entire course of the test.

It’s a significant blow for the ground-based system of 30 interceptors in Alaska and California, which the Government Accountability Office estimated would cost taxpayers $40 billion from 1996 to 2017.

Despite the poor track record, the Pentagon plans to add 14 missile interceptors in Alaska to counter North Korea, which has issued threats since it tested an underground nuclear device and launched a small satellite. The Pentagon expects cost of the expansion to be $1 billion.

More in Local News

Turkey talk: Kindergartners explain the Thanksgiving holiday

Our annual pilgrimage led us this year to Pathfinder Kindergarten Center in Everett.

Police locate suspect in Snohomish River after he fled

They used a thermal-imaging camera to locate the man in the water near Dagmars Marina.

Electrical fire on roof of Marysville school extinguished

There was no apparent structural damage to Cascade Elementary School.

As police closed in, 2 heavily armed pot-shop robbers fled

Cops surrounded the place in Mountlake Terrace. The suspects were tracked by dogs and apprehended nearby.

Hiker rescued on Boulder River trail after 15-foot fall

She was reported to have possible leg and rib fractures.

Alleged philanderer attacked with hammer near Everett

His girlfriend had accused him of cheating and allegedly called on another man to confront him.

Snohomish County Council passes a no-new-taxes budget

The spending plan still funds the hiring of five new sheriff’s deputies and a code enforcement officer.

In Sultan, there was a seat at the table for everyone

Every year, the town’s community dinner ensures no one has to dine alone on Thanksgiving.

Most Read