A whole new kind of missile defense test failure

This time, they couldn't even get the target "missile" to launch correctly.

Published May 25, 2007 8:23PM (EDT)

The missile defense shield that has been pushed heavily by the Bush administration since 2001 has had more than its share of failures.

Recently, though, it seemed like the system might be doing better, as it passed two recent tests, the first successful ones since 2002. (As Salon's own Joe Conason pointed out way back in 2001, however, at least one of the previous tests should be taken with a grain of salt, as the target missile in that case was equipped with a GPS device that made the missile easier to track.)

But today there's some embarrassing news; in the most recent test, they didn't even get to the interception part of the test -- seems the dummy missile launched as a target didn't make it to the target zone.

In the mind of Richard Lehner, a spokesman for the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, this just proves the need for a missile defense system in Europe. Reuters paraphrases him as saying that "the botched test 'reinforces the need' to install U.S. 10 interceptors in Poland and a tracking radar station in the Czech Republic as a defense against a potential missile attack from Iran ...

"It showed that any missiles launched by Iran could similarly go astray and land in Europe even if Europe was not Iran's target."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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