WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A
missile that the U.S. military hopes will be part of the Bush administration's
controversial missile defense program failed to intercept its target during
a test on Saturday, the U.S. Army said.
The upgraded Patriot PAC-3 missile, made by Lockheed Martin Corp., was
supposed to intercept a cruise missile target in Saturday's test in New
Two other older Raytheon Co. PAC-2 missiles also were launched as part
of Saturday's test. The Army said only one of the two missiles scored a
successful hit, destroying a drone aircraft.
The "hit-to-kill" missiles, advanced versions of the Patriot
anti-aircraft missile used against Iraqi Scud missiles in the 1991 Gulf
War, are designed to collide with their targets in flight at high speed.
But opponents of the anti-missile system have argued that technological
problems could prevent the program from becoming a viable defense system
for the United States.
The Bush administration hopes the system eventually will shield American
cities, as well as U.S. troops and overseas bases, from missile attack.
Saturday's test was designed to simultaneously shoot down a remote-controlled
QF-4 "Phantom" fighter jet, a cruise missile and a smaller drone
aircraft. This first operational test followed 11 successful developmental
The next test has not yet been scheduled, but the military is hoping to
complete the current round of four tests on the PAC-3 system by May.
The PAC-3 missile tested on Saturday is designed to provide upgraded defenses
against modern battlefield ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft.
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