Missile tests likely to go unchallengedSeptember 6, 2017
North Korea is expected to launch more ballistic missiles over Japan as the rogue nation seeks to add greater distance to its tests. But don’t look for Japan or the United States to attempt to shoot down North Korean test missiles flying over open ocean, according to defense experts. Downing an intermediaterange ballistic missile headed for the Pacific “would be an incredibly difficult, if not impossible, challenge,” said Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association. “Our current defenses are not postured to defend the open ocean, but rather, major population centers, ports, military facilities, etc.,” Reif said in an email.
Beyond those concerns is the potential for failure, and the possibility that shooting a missile headed for international waters could be viewed as an act of war by North Korea. Existing SM-3 Block IA and IB interceptors fired from Japanese and U.S. Navy ships do not have a demonstrated capability against intermediate-range missiles and have never been tested against intercontinental ballistic missiles, he said. Patriot batteries deployed to Japan are not capable of engaging a long-range missile streaking over Japan, meanwhile…