Thursday, December 16, 2010; A21
A test of the U.S. missile defense program failed Wednesday, the second in a row involving the system, the Defense Department said.
The Missile Defense Agency provided no preliminary explanation of the failure, the seventh out of 15 tries for the program.
"This is a tremendous setback for the testing of this complicated system," Riki Ellison, head of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, a booster group, said in a statement. He said it raised troubling questions about the reliability of the 30 or so interceptor missiles deployed in silos in Alaska and California.
A spokeswoman for Boeing, which manages the missile defense project, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The multibillion-dollar, ground-based bulwark is designed to shoot down a limited number of long-range ballistic missiles that could be tipped with chemical, biological or nuclear warheads. The system is part of a layered hedge against countries such as North Korea and Iran.