(National Sentinel)Â Defense:Â The U.S. military appears to be preparing for another ballistic missile intercept test on the heels of North Korea firing another short-range missile Saturday that flew hundreds of miles, landingÂ in the Sea of Japan.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that the “distinctive missile telemetry ship MV Pacific Collector” is currently in port at Aloha Tower, which signals a possible upcoming missile defense test.
The paper noted further:
The 393-foot ship with twin domes housing 24-foot antennas is owned by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration and used in support of U.S. Missile Defense Agency missions.
Spokesman Chris Johnson said the agency doesn’t usually talk about assets used in a missile defense test until after the fact, but did confirm the next flight intercept test of the ground-based mid-course ballistic missile defense system is planned for late May.
That test will be the first time a ground-based missile interceptor launched from California attempts to smash into a “threat-representative” intercontinental ballistic missile in its mid-course over the Pacific, the Missile Defense Agency said.
There are 36 ground-based interceptor missiles deployed in California and Alaska – the most likely ICBM approach from North Korea. That number is set to increase to 44 this year.
The $40 billion system, however, was rated as havingÂ low reliability by the Pentagon’s weapons testing office in December, meaning that in real terms, missile-to-missile defense is still a long way off in terms of becoming a stable reality. That said, a missile defense test involving an interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California against a mid-range ICBM fired fromÂ the U.S. Army‘s Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in June 2014 was a success.
Meanwhile, North Korea conducted it’s latestÂ test-launch of aÂ ballistic missile, which flew about 500 miles and splashed into the Sea of Japan – 60 miles from Russia.
As the UK’sÂ Daily Mail reported, the missile is believed to have a much longer range – capable of hitting Hawaii:
The launch took place in the Kusong region located northwest of the capital, Pyongyang, where the NorthÂ previously test-launched an intermediate-range missile it is believed to be developing.Â Â
A US official toldÂ CNNÂ the missile landed in water 60 miles south of Russia’s Vladivostok region, home of the Russian Pacific Fleet.Â
U.S. Pacific CommandÂ said the missile did not appear to be an ICBM type, but there is some disagreement over this:
Japan’s defense minister Tomomi Inada told reporters there is a possibility that it was a new type of ballistic missile, saying it flew Sunday for about 30 minutes and at an altitude exceeding 1,240 miles. She says more analysis was needed.
Japanese officials said the missile landed in the Sea of Japan but outside the country’s exclusive economic zone.Â
Kim Dong-yub, an expert at Kyungnam University’s Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Seoul, said he estimated a standard trajectory firing would give it a range of 3,700 miles, meaning it would be capable of reaching Hawaii.Â
It’s not hard to think thatÂ Russia would beÂ upset about the proximity of the missile’s splashdown in relation to its military bases in Vladivostok. In fact, a White House official noted: “With the missile impacting so close to Russian soil – in fact, closer to Russia than to Japan – the President cannot imagine that Russia is pleased.
“North Korea has been a flagrant menace for far too long. South Korea and Japan have been watching this situation closely with us,” the official said, as reported by theÂ Daily Mail.
“The United States maintains our ironclad commitment to stand with our allies in the face of the serious threat posed by North Korea. Let this latest provocation serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea.”
Currently, Russian President Vladimir Putin is in the area – he’s in Beijing for talks with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. What do you want to bet that Donald J. Trump is a topic of discussion?
In an event, with each new launch, Japan and South KoreaÂ will be filled with new resolve to back any eventual U.S. plan to eliminate this threat once and for all.
Or maybe just Japan.
South Korea just elected a new liberal president -Â Moon Jae-In – who wants (wait for it)Â more dialogue with the North. According to a Moon spokesperson:Â South Korea is “leaving open the possibility of dialogue with North Korea, but we should sternly deal with a provocation to prevent North Korea from miscalculating.”
At some point the Asia’sÂ liberal leaders will have to come to an understanding, and that is this – Kim Jong-un, the tyrant who runs North Korea, isn’t interested in giving up his nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs,Â period. That means they will have to be destroyed to eliminate the threat.