Another Claim about the Effectiveness of the GMD National Missile Defense System (March 8, 2013)

I have updated (now with 16 claims) my compilation of official claims about the effectiveness of the United States GMD national missile defense with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s comments from yesterday. At the daily White House press briefing, in response to a question. Mr. Carney stated that.

“I can tell you that the United States is fully capable of defending against any North Korean ballistic missile attack.  And our recent success in returning to testing of the upgraded version of the so-called GBI, or the CE2 missile, will keep us on a good trajectory to improve our defense capability against limited ballistic missile threats such as those from North Korea.  But let’s be clear, we are fully capable of dealing with that threat.”

For perspective, it should be noted that the “CE2 missile” interceptor cited by Mr. Carney has, in fact, failed in both its intercept tests.  The recent successful test of this interceptor raised by Mr. Carney, did not involve a target, much less an intercept attempt.  The test, labeled CTV-01 and conducted in January,  involved putting the kill vehicle through a series of maneuvers in order to determine if a vibration problem caused by firing its maneuvering thrusters has been solved (see graphic below — click on it for a larger image).  This test was reportedly successful and a third attempt to intercept a target with a CE-2 kill vehicle will likely occur in the next few months.


CTV-01 Test (Image source: VADM J. D. Syring (Director, Missile Defense Agency), “Ballistic Missile Defense Update,”  Briefing Slides, American Society of Naval Architects, February 22, 2013.

Earlier versions of the GBI interceptor have reportedly been successful on eight out of thirteen intercept attempts.   This includes three out of three for the operationally configured CE-1 version of the GBI (although as has been noted several times in this blog, in one reportedly successful test the interceptor did not achieve a “kill” of its warhead target), which was most recently intercept-tested in December 2008.

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