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----- Forwarded by Thomas E Page on 10/23/02 01:38 PM -----

Subject: FW: [Fwd: External Affairs Digest for 15 October 2002]



October 15, 2002


Santa Maria Times, October 15, 2002. The Pentagon's missile defense system logged its fourth consecutive intercept with Monday's twilight test that created a colorful display in the sky, sparking inquiries from around the West. Lt. Col. Rick Lehner, a Missile Defense Agency spokesman, reported late Monday night that the prototype interceptor successfully slammed into a mock warhead about 140 miles above the central Pacific Ocean. "A success like we had this evening greatly expands our knowledge of missile defense technology and increases our confidence that we can build a system to defend the U.S. from a long-range missile attack," said Lehner . . . "The performance appears to be nominal at this point," said Lehner. "It will be some time before we have a complete analysis of all test elements." For the first time, the Pentagon employed a previously banned radar aboard an Navy Aegis destroyer. The SPY-1 radar, which couldn't be used under the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, was to gather data and wasn't involved in a direct intercept. This marked the fifth success among seven tries for the Pentagon, officials said. The next intercept test is planned within three months, he said. Vandenberg's portion of the test prompted more attention for what has become a routine event. Called twilight phenomenon, a normally routine launch turns into a celestial exhibition as sunlight reflects off unburned fuel particles and water. The result is a palette of colors that evolve as upper level winds carry the contrail, sometimes creating a rainbow sheen that looks like the interior of an abalone shell. The contrail can been seen as far away as Nevada, Utah and Arizona.

Reuters, October 15, 2002. The U.S. military said on Monday it successfully shot down a dummy warhead high over the Pacific with an interceptor missile in the seventh test of its planned shield against ballistic missiles. "We launched the target missile about 10 p.m. eastern time. We launched the interceptor missile about 22 minutes later. Six minutes after that, we had the intercept in space about 140 miles above the earth over the central Pacific Ocean," said Missile Defense Agency spokesman Lt. Col. Rick Lehner. In the test, a prototype interceptor fired from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands smashed a modified Minuteman 2 missile launched 4,800 miles away from Vandenberg Air Force base in California. For the first time, a ship-based radar system was used in the $100 million test to gather data about the target and interceptor missile, the Missile Defense Agency said. The result "increases our confidence in the technology that is necessary for a future defense system to protect the U.S. homeland from a long-range missile attack," Lehner said. The agency has had five successes and two failures in previous tests.

Agence France Presse, October 15, 2002. An intercontinental ballistic missile launched from the U.S. state of California was successfully intercepted over the Pacific Ocean as part of a new test of a national missile defense system, the U.S. Defense Department announced late Monday. The test involved a modified Minuteman missile launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 10:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time (0200 GMT Tuesday), and a prototype interceptor fired 22 minutes later about 7,775 kilometers (4,800 miles) away from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, it said. The intercept took place about six minutes after the launch of the interceptor at an altitude of more than 227 kilometers (140 miles) above the Earth during the mid-course phase of the warhead's flight . . . The experiment marked the fifth successful -- and the fourth consecutive -- intercept in seven flight tests conducted by the Pentagon since October 1999 as part of efforts to develop a national missile defense system . . . It will take specialists several weeks to fully analyze data collected during the flight test to determine whether malfunctions have occurred and all the objectives set before the launch had been met.

United Press International, October 15, 2002. The United States' fledgling missile defense program notched another success Monday night when, for the fourth consecutive time, a target missile launched from California was obliterated by a killer rocket fired from a distant South Pacific Island. The direct hit by the "exo-atmospheric kill vehicle," or EKV, high above the Pacific was the fifth successful test of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system in seven tries, and the first to include the radar system of a Navy warship, something that would have been prohibited had the United States not withdrawn from the historic Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in order to pursue the development of a missile defense system . . . "This test is a major step in an aggressive developmental test program, and we will continue to pursue this testing regime to achieve a layered approach to missile defense... to deter the growing threat of ballistic missiles carrying weapons of mass destruction," the Pentagon said in a statement. "Over the next several weeks, government and industry program officials will conduct an extensive analysis of the data received during the flight test." . . . "Sensors aboard the EKV successfully selected the mock warhead from among the five objects in the target array, including three decoys," the Pentagon said. "Only system-generated data was used for the intercept after the EKV separated from its booster rocket."

Sacramento Bee, October 15, 2002. The bright lights that lit up sky over Northern California about 7:20 p.m. Monday were the result of a missile launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California, officials said. Twenty minutes after the launch, a ground-based interceptor missile was launched from Ronald Reagan Missile Test Facility at Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. "This is an interceptor missile that is designed to protect the U.S. from a long-range missile attack," said Lt. Col. Rick Lehner, the spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency. "We had a successful intercept this evening." A modified Minuteman II, carrying a mock warhead, was launched from Vandenberg at 7 p.m. and as it traveled 4,800 miles to its intercept point 140 miles above the Pacific Ocean, "it put on quite a light show," said Lehner. "When it gets to be sunset and you have low clouds, the crystallization of the rocket motor propellant fuel creates the burst of light seen from the ground," he said. This was the second launch of its kind this year. A Minuteman III missile was launched from Vandenberg on Sept. 19.

Reno Gazette-Journal, October 15, 2002. For the second time in a month, an unarmed Air Force missile launch from a California base created an aerial show Monday for residents in northern Nevada and the West Coast. "It was in the southwest sky," said Patrick Gilmore of Robb Drive in Reno. "It was super, super bright and put out a pretty good stream." . . . "We saw a missile flying and putting out white light," said Scott Rittenour of Lemmon Valley. "It looked like a jet was flying towards it and it disappeared with a poof. The missile was spraying exhaust. It was a very bright light." . . . [Lt. Col. Rick Lehner of the Missile Defense Agency] said he had heard from reporters in Portland, Ore., and Phoenix. One caller from Truckee claimed the missile blew up. "What they're seeing is rocket motor stage separation," Lehner said. "The spray effect is because of twilight and the crystallization of the fuel."

Deutsche Presse-Agentur, October 15, 2002. California and Nevada residents jammed emergency lines Monday to report a nation under attack, which U.S. military officials later said was merely a successful test of its military defence shield. A target ballistic missile launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California reached an altitude of 225 kilometres before it was intercepted and destroyed about 20 minutes later. The intercepting rocket was fired from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, officials said. Residents in the two western states called police departments and local television stations. Many callers said they feared an enemy attack, local media reported.