Posted by Lilly from ? (18.104.22.168) on Tuesday, December 03, 2002 at 5:20PM :
In Reply to: US tests scud capabilities in Pacific posted by Lilly from ? (22.214.171.124) on Tuesday, December 03, 2002 at 5:19PM :
U.S. Test-Fires Scud Missiles
Americans, Israel To Share Information
November 29, 2002
By WILLIAM OVEREND, Special To The Courant
Two Scud missiles were launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California this month as part of a three-year program to improve missile defense systems - the first time the weapons have been fired from U.S. soil.
Officials said the launches, witnessed by a team of Israeli and U.S. military and defense industry officials, are a milestone in a program that has the United States sharing information with Israel.
The Scud research has been conducted with a high level of secrecy. For example, officials Wednesday would say only that the two missiles were obtained from "foreign sources."
The Soviet Union developed the Scud in the 1960s, and the missile, used by Iraq against Saudi Arabia and Israel during the Persian Gulf War, is in the arsenal of at least 25 nations.
"Both missiles were similar to advanced Scuds now in the Iraqi arsenal," said Chris Taylor, spokesman for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. "It was a very good series of tests."
According to Defense Department officials, the three-year study is aimed partly at helping develop a new generation of U.S.-made Patriot ground-to-air missiles and other defense technology.
In the gulf war in 1991, Iraq fired about 90 Scuds. One killed 28 U.S. soldiers at a barracks in Saudi Arabia. Most of the 39 fired at Israel landed in unoccupied areas, but two people were killed and about 200 injured.
If the United States enters another war against Iraq, officials fear that Scuds again could be aimed at Israel, which is defended by the Israeli-made Arrow anti-missile system as well as Patriots.
The Scud missiles, each 36 feet long and 13,000 pounds, have been notoriously unpredictable in flight. They tend to wobble wildly, sometimes making them difficult to shoot down.
One goal of the two tests, involving missiles fired in daylight Nov. 14 and darkness Monday morning from a mobile launch pad, was to study the trajectory of the weapon and its characteristics during flight.
Before the launches, sensors measuring speed, altitude, engine burn rate and other flight traits were installed. The missiles carried mock warheads and were launched over the Pacific Ocean, officials said.
The first Scud traveled about 115 miles and reached an altitude of 150,000 feet before splashdown, officials said. The second traveled 186 miles and reached an altitude of 281,000 feet.
The project at Vandenberg, near the Santa Barbara County city of Lompoc, began in 2000 and will end in November 2003, Taylor said. A preliminary report will be completed in the spring.
There was no effort made to shoot either missile down as part of the test, officials said. They said a primary goal is to understand Scud capabilities fully.
William Overend is a Los Angeles Times reporter.
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