A $214-million test launch of the only US defense against long-range ballistic missile attacks failed to hit its target over the Pacific Ocean, according to the Missile Defense Agency. There have been no successful interceptor tests since 2008.
In Friday's test, a ground-based interceptor missile was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and was expected to hit its target – a missile launched 4,000 miles away from the Kwajalein Atoll.
It’s the third consecutive failure involving the interceptor system managed by Boeing Co.
The military has tested the so-called ground-based midcourse defense system sixteen times. It has succeeded eight times, with the last intercept in December 2008.
The recent failure comes several months after the Pentagon announced plans to spend $1 billion to add 14 new interceptors along the West Coast in response to threats from North Korea.
The US currently has 26 interceptors deployed at Fort Greely in Alaska and four at Vandenberg Air Force Base, northwest of Santa Barbara, in California. Earlier this year the Obama administration said the number of ground-based interceptors would reach 44 by 2017.
“An intercept was not achieved,” the Defense Department said in a statement, adding that program officials will conduct an “extensive review” to determine the cause of “any anomalies which may have prevented a successful intercept”.