THE Pentagon admitted yesterday that the “Son of Star Wars” missile interception test flight over the Pacific on July 14 succeeded partly because the target, an unarmed Minuteman II ballistic missile warhead, had an electronic beacon on it to help to guide the “hit-to-kill” weapon.
The interceptor missile had been launched from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, and the Minuteman, also carrying a decoy warhead, was fired from Vandenberg air force base in California.
Critics of the missile defense program have said that earlier flight tests had been unrealistic because they made it easier for the target to be hit.
A Ballistic Missile Defense Organization spokesman said: “The only thing that it (the beacon) does is help to get the booster (for the interceptor) in the right direction. The weapon finds the target and hits it.” Admiral Craig Quigley, a Pentagon spokesman, said that real warheads in an attack would not carry the beacons.
Copyright 2001 Times Newspapers Ltd