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DATE=1/19/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=MISSILE TEST FAILS (L) NUMBER=2-258228 BYLINE=JIM RANDLE DATELINE=PENTAGON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Pentagon officials say a faulty sensor is the likely cause of Tuesday's failed test of the U-S anti ballistic missile system. Critics of the system say the missed target shows the technology is not ready to deploy. V-O-A's Jim Randle reports, Pentagon officials think they can fix the defective sensors, though they don't know how long it will take. TEXT: Tuesday, test engineers launched a target missile from California, hurling a dummy warhead into space, simulating a nuclear attack. A complex network of sensors on satellites and radars on the ground tracked the target missile, feeding information to a powerful new computer, designed to guide the interceptor rocket -- called a `kill vehicle' -- close to the target missile. About 20 minutes into the test, military officials launched the defensive missile from an island in the mid-Pacific. The kill vehicle was supposed to maneuver on a collision course, strike the attacking missile at 20-thousand kilometers an hour, and shatter it into microscopic particles But something went wrong with the infrared sensors in the last six seconds, and the blinded interceptor sailed past its target. Officials say the 100-million dollar experiment was not a total loss, because it successfully tested new radars and a complex computer that guides the effort to shoot down missiles. A third test in April or May is designed to give President Clinton the information he will need to make a decision to build or shelve the nearly 13-billion dollar system. Critics of the effort to build missile defenses, including Tom Collina of the Union of Concerned Scientists, say President Clinton should delay that decision. /// COLLINA ACT /// The technology will not be mature by this summer, when we have the Clinton Administration decision, and certainly deploying a system that we don't know whether it works is not worth the political and financial downsides. /// END ACT /// Mr. Collina says the system will likely cost much more than the Pentagon's 13-billion dollar estimate. And he says the system does not seem likely to do its job -- protecting Americans from a handful of missiles launched from North Korea or another rogue state. But Mr. Collina says deploying the system is likely to derail arms control efforts with Russia that have already gotten rid of thousands of nuclear warheads that were once pointed at the United States. Supporters of missile defenses say U-S scientists can solve the difficult technical problems. They argue whatever the system's price in dollars it is less than the cost in lives of a missile attack on a U-S city. (Signed) NEB/JR/TVM/gm 19-Jan-2000 17:55 PM EDT (19-Jan-2000 2255 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .