Kim Jong-un increased his anti-American rhetoric over the past week, prompting President Trump to call his bluff with a new defense system that promises to make the North Korean leader’s threats meaningless.
A newly-built missile defense system has successfully intercepted a target missile in a test run. This new piece of military hardware will be used by our armed forces to intercept any nuclear missiles launched by Kim Jong-un and to keep America safe from his threats. (via CNN)
Executing a successful interception on Tuesday, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile promises to shut down any potential threats from the North Korean government.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the government and contractor team who executed this flight test today,” said Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greeves. “This test further demonstrates the capabilities of the THAAD weapon system and its ability to intercept and destroy ballistic missile threats.” (via CNN)
Although an official in the U.S. Department of Defense said the test was not related to North Korea’s recent Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) launch on July 4, that seems unlikely. The timing of this test coincides with North Korea’s ICBM launch, which Kim Jong-un stated was directly meant to “slap the American b*****ds in their face.”
Regardless, U.S. military and intelligence communities have begun reevaluating their defense systems in response to North Korea’s claims that they have already miniaturized a nuclear warhead that can be fitted to an ICBM.
“I know there’s some debate about the miniaturization advancements made by Pyongyang,” said Adm. Harry Harris, head of U.S. Pacific Command, who advocated, for planning purposes, to assume that they do have the capability. “I take him at his word. I must assume his claims are true – I know his aspirations certainly are.” (via U.S. Pacific Command)
The U.S. began deploying THAAD systems in South Korea earlier in 2017 — a decision which was met with criticism from China, Russia, and North Korea, who claimed that its deployment is just fueling an arms race in the peninsula.
However, there is still much work to be done on the system. John Schilling, contributor and analyst to 38 North, a Washington-based North Korea monitoring project, said that THAAD was meant for dealing with short to mid-range missiles, and would be challenged by long-range ICBMs.
“To engage an ICBM with THAAD would be like asking a high school baseball player to hit a fastball from a major-league pitcher – literally out of his league,” said the analyst. (via Reuters)
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Regardless, the THAAD system has had a 100 percent track record for all 14 intercept attempts since its initial testing, and Lockheed Martin plans to deliver 52 more THAAD interceptors to the U.S. Army. An increase in THAAD interceptors will increase the United States’ ability to fend off ballistic missiles, especially in Alaska and Hawaii, the states most at risk from North Korean attacks.
The Trump administration’s decision to increase defense spending, and specifically focusing on ICBM interceptors, is just one way Trump is keeping his promise to Make America Great Again. In doing so, he is also making America safe again.