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only a test

During test, U.S. successfully destroys mock ballistic missile over Pacific

A mock intercontinental ballistic missile launched by the United States over the Pacific Ocean was successfully shot down Tuesday by an upgraded long-range interceptor missile, the Missile Defense Agency said in a statement.

The ground-based interceptor was launched from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base and "destroyed the target in a direct collision," the Missile Defense Agency said. The U.S. has poured more than $40 billion into the MDA since 2002, and its director, Vice Adm. Jim Syring, said the "intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target is an incredible accomplishment ... and a critical milestone for this program. This system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat."

The test was two days after North Korea's latest missile launch — the short-range ballistic missile flew about 248 miles — but the Pentagon said it was always planning on conducting the test Tuesday. While the interceptor did destroy the mock ICBM, Philip E. Coyle, a senior fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, told CNN that only "two out of the last five attempts" have been successful and "that is only a 40 percent success rate since early 2010. In school, 40 percent isn't a passing grade. Based on its testing record, we cannot rely upon this missile defense program to protect the United States from a North Korean long-range missile."