News

Voice of America
3/6/97
PENTAGON/MISSILE TEST
BYLINE=DAVID GOLLUST
DATELINE=PENTAGON

INTRO: THE PENTAGON IS REPORTING ANOTHER SETBACK IN ITS EFFORT TO DEVELOP A DEFENSE AGAINST SHORT AND MEDIUM-RANGE BALLISTIC MISSILES. AN INTERCEPTOR MISSILE MISSED ITS TARGET IN A CRUCIAL TEST FLIGHT IN NEW MEXICO IN THE FOURTH CONSECUTIVE TEST FAILURE. VOA'S DAVID GOLLUST HAS DETAILS FROM THE PENTAGON.

TEXT: THE PENTAGON SAYS ITS "THAAD" ANTI-BALLISTIC MISSILE MISSED ITS TARGET THURSDAY AT THE WHITE SANDS TEST RANGE IN NEW MEXICO IN THE FOURTH STRAIGHT FAILURE OF THE INTERCEPTOR DATING BACK TO LATE 1995.

THE THAAD PROJECT -- WHICH STANDS FOR THEATER HIGH- ALTITUDE AREA DEFENSE -- IS A TOP PRIORITY FOR SENIOR U-S MILITARY OFFICIALS. THEY SEE A GROWING THREAT TO U-S TROOPS ABROAD FROM MISSILES MORE SOPHISTICATED THAN THE IRAQI SCUDS FIRED AT TARGETS IN SAUDI ARABIA AND ISRAEL DURING THE GULF WAR.

THE CAUSE OF THE LATEST FAILURE HAS NOT BEEN DETERMINED. BUT OFFICIALS HAD SAID IN ADVANCE OF THURSDAY'S TEST THAT IF THAAD FAILED ANOTHER TEST IT WOULD PROBABLY FORCE THE PENTAGON TO PUSH BACK ITS GOAL OF HAVING THE MISSILE DEPLOYED BY THE YEAR 2004.

THE PENTAGON HAS SPENT NEARLY TWO AND A HALF BILLION DOLLARS SINCE 1990 ON THAAD. IT IS DESIGNED AS A SUCCESSOR TO THE PATRIOT MISSILE, AN UPGRADED ANTI- AIRCRAFT WEAPON USED WITH MIXED SUCCESS AGAINST IRAQI SCUDS AND DEPLOYED WITH U-S FORCES IN THE GULF REGION AND SOUTH KOREA. (SIGNED)

NEB/DAG/ENE/LWM

06-Mar-97 5:09 PM EST (2209 UTC)
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