New version of US missile interceptor fails first test

September 1, 2011 22:55

WASHINGTON - A new version of the SM-3 interceptor used in the US ballistic missile defense program failed to hit a target in its first test on Thursday in an initial setback for its advanced steering systems.

The US Missile Defense Agency said the interceptor -- a Raytheon Standard Missile 3 Block 1B -- was unable to achieve the intercept of a ballistic missile target during a test over the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii at 3:53 a.m.The sea-based interceptor was fired from the USS Lake Erie at a short-range ballistic missile target that was launched from a US Navy range on Kauai. The interceptor is a kinetic warhead designed to pulverize a target by smashing into it -- like a bullet hitting a bullet.

"This was the first flight test of the advanced SM-3 Block 1B interceptor missile," the agency said in a statement. "Program officials will conduct an extensive investigation to determine the cause of the failure to intercept."

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