July 12, 2006

US says missile-shield component test successful

By Jim Wolf

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military said it had
successfully tested Wednesday a missile-shield component built
by Lockheed Martin Corp. to shoot down a ballistic missile in
the last minute or so of its flight.

The so-called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense weapon
system, or THAAD, "exceeded its objectives" in the long-planned
test by shooting down a non-separating Hera target missile at
White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, Lockheed said in a

THAAD, which is still being developed, is to be part of a
layered shield meant to defend against short- to
intermediate-range ballistic missiles of the type fired by
North Korea a week ago.

"Initial indications are that all planned flight test
objectives were achieved," the Pentagon's Missile Defense
Agency said.

Richard Lehner, an agency spokesman, said earlier the test
had been planned for a long time, by implication not directly
related to North Korea's July 5 launch of at least seven
missiles, including a longer-range Taepodong 2 missile.

This marked the third successful THAAD developmental flight
test since such testing resumed in November 2005. The remaining
flight test is verifying the system's capabilities at
"increasingly difficult levels," the Missile Defense Agency