Guam is back in North Koreaâs crosshairs after the country fired a missile over Japan.
A successful U.S. test strike against an intermediate-range missile WednesdayÂ raisesÂ fresh questions about the feasibility of the U.S. military intercepting a North Korean missile test as a means of deterring the country from future provocative launches.Â
But experts say it may not be a practical optionÂ since most North Korea missile tests have been aimed at the open seas, including a North Korean missile launched to flyÂ over Japan on Tuesday. The missile defense systems are designed to defend U.S. territory or that of an ally from incoming missiles.
“We donât have the capability to shoot down every missile every time one is launched,â said David Maxwell, associate director of Georgetown Universityâs Center for Security Studies. âWe have no need to defend the Pacific Ocean.”
Even theÂ missile that crossedÂ Japan, the first such launch,Â may have been difficult to intercept. ItÂ flew nearly 1,700 miles and reached an altitude of 340 miles.
The âloftyâ trajectories of some of the recent North Korean launches mayÂ complicate efforts to intercept the missiles, said Ian Williams, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.Â
The high trajectories are useful for North KoreaÂ to test the range of its missiles without striking foreign territory, but a missile aimed at a real target would fly on a flatter flight path.
U.S. and allied radar systems can quickly determine where a missile is headed and whether it poses a threat to populated areas. The systemsÂ can track test launches also, but there may not be interceptors in a position to shoot them down if they are headed for the open seas.
âBallistic missiles are…