Очередное испытания систем ПРО США намечено на 1 декабря
The U.S. military plans to conduct its fifth 'hit-to-kill' missile defense test in space over the Pacific Ocean on December 1, 2001, Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said. Two of four former U.S. hit-to-kill tests have been successful and Russia remains strongly opposed to plans by the Bush administration to move beyond the controversial ABM treaty. An interceptor is launched in the Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific during the successful October 1999 test. (Ballistic Missile Defense Organization via Reuters)
Pentagon: U.S. Plans Missile Defense Test Saturday
By Charles Aldinger
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military plans to conduct its fifth ``hit-to-kill'' missile defense test in space over the Pacific Ocean on Saturday as Moscow and Washington remain at odds over the American anti-missile program, the Pentagon (news - web sites) said on Thursday.
``It is scheduled for Saturday night. It is just part of an ongoing and robust missile defense program,'' Defense Department spokeswoman Victoria Clarke told reporters.
Defense officials have stressed that the test, in which a projectile fired from Kwajalein island in the Pacific will attempt to intercept and shatter a dummy warhead launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, would not violate the 1972 Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty between the United States and former Soviet Union.
Two of four former U.S. hit-to-kill tests have been successful and two have failed, but Russia remains strongly opposed to plans by the Bush administration to move beyond the controversial ABM treaty.
That pact prohibits a national missile defense by either country. But Washington and Moscow have been discussing the issue for more than a year and have made apparent progress toward a possible agreement that would pave the way for the U.S. defense against a limited number of missiles fired by ''rogue'' states.
NO AGREEMENT AT SUMMIT
Russian President Vladimir Putin (news - web sites) and President Bush (news - web sites) failed to reach agreement on the thorny issue at a meeting in Texas this month but agreed to continue discussions.
Washington's European allies have expressed fears that, unless the United States and Russia reach agreement, any unilateral scrapping of the ABM treaty could destroy a list of other treaties between the two countries on nuclear arms reductions and other strategic issues.
But Putin, who opposes Bush's intention to abandon the ABM pact and deploy a shield against incoming missiles, said in Crawford, Texas, that the summit had not been a waste of time and the two leaders aimed to continue talks on the issue.
They would build on what he said was common ground in a shared belief that ``future threats'' -- typically a reference to terrorism or small-scale missile attacks by outlaw states -- must be addressed.
Bush and Putin have also announced plans to make deep cuts in the vast nuclear arsenals of both countries but differences remain.
At the summit, the two leaders offered divergent interpretations of the fate of nuclear warheads to be removed from missiles under arms reductions announced by each. Bush said he intended to destroy the warheads but Putin said their fate should be negotiated.
Maj. Gen. Ronald Kadish, director of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, stands next to a killer vehicle nose cone during a Pentagon news conference Friday, Nov. 30, 2001 to discuss Saturday's missile test of an interceptor over the Pacific. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Monday December 3 2:18 AM ET
Missile Defense Test Postponed
WASHINGTON (AP) - Bad weather on the California coast frustrated Pentagon (news - web sites) efforts to carry out the fifth test of a missile defense system over the weekend.
The test, scrubbed both Saturday and Sunday primarily because of high winds at the Vandenberg Air Force Base launch site, was rescheduled for Monday night.
The Pentagon is counting on one more successful test of its missile defense system before adding new technical challenges to the testing program. It was not clear what would happen if the launch could not take place Monday night.
The plan calls for a modified intercontinental ballistic missile carrying a mock warhead to head over the central Pacific Ocean. Twenty minutes later, an interceptor rocket would roar into the night sky from Kwajalein Atoll, hone in on the mock warhead with the help of a radar in Hawaii, and ram into the warhead 144 miles into space.
The device that actually hits the warhead is known as a ``kill vehicle,'' a 120-pound, 55-inch long device that separates from the rocket booster and seeks out the target using its on-board infrared sensor.
Of the first four attempts to intercept a mock warhead in space, two succeeded and two failed.
After the most recent test, in July, scored a direct hit, the Pentagon decided the fifth would repeat the same scenario rather than add complexities or remove any of the test's artificial elements.
Some say the program is too simplistic to reveal much about how well the system would work in an actual missile attack on the United States.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, head of the Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, told reporters last week that a successful intercept would allow him to increase the realism of the sixth test, now scheduled for February.
One new element for the next test would be additional ``countermeasures'' - such as balloon decoys meant to confuse the interceptor.
A single, large balloon decoy was to be used in Sunday's test.
The Bush administration has set no target date for fielding a missile defense system that could be used in actual combat. President Bush (news - web sites) considers this project an urgent priority and is committing billions of dollars to it.
Each intercept test costs about $100 million.