Tuesday, December 04, 2007

ICBM intercepted by a Jet-launched missile

The AFP reports a missile-defense success:
A US F-16 fighter used an air-to-air missile to destroy a sounding rocket in its boost phase for the first time this week in a test of a new missile defense concept, US spokesmen said Tuesday.

The system -- named the Net-Centric Airborne Defense Element (NCDE) -- breaks new ground in that it would arm fighter aircraft or drones with missiles fast enough to intercept a ballistic missile as it lifts into space.

The aircraft would have to get to within a 100 miles of the launch site to catch the ascending missile in the first two to three minutes after launch.

But it could be very useful in a short range combat situation against short and medium range missiles, said Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the US Missile Defense Agency.

The Pentagon has two other better known boost phase intercept systems under development -- the Airborne Laser and the Kinetic Energy Interceptor -- but those are still years away from being ready, he said.

For reliability, missile defense should be redundant with possible interceptions at boost-phase, mid-course, and terminal phase. This test was of a boost-phase system.

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