U.S. Commanders Uncertain If North Korea Plans Missile Test

U.S. Commanders Uncertain If North Korea Plans Missile Test
March 20th, 2009  
Team Infidel

Topic: U.S. Commanders Uncertain If North Korea Plans Missile Test

U.S. Commanders Uncertain If North Korea Plans Missile Test
Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
March 20, 2009

Three top U.S. commanders told a Senate hearing March 19 that they can't be sure whether North Korea plans to launch a communications satellite or test an offensive missile during an announced missile launch next month.
But the heads of Pacific Command, Strategic Command (STRATCOM) and Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command said they believed the U.S. already has the capability to knock out an attacking North Korean missile.
"We have a high probability" of intercepting an incoming missile, said Navy Adm. Timothy Keating of Pacific Command. STRATCOM chief Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton agreed with Keating, with the caveat that U.S. missile defense forces still would need "adequate warning, which I believe we have."
North Korea has announced plans to launch a communications satellite between April 4-8, but many observers believe the launch will actually be the test of another long-range ballistic missile. North Korea launched a Taepodong 2 missile in July 2006, but it failed shortly after launch. Pyongyang also has successfully tested a nuclear device, to the dismay of its neighbors and U.S. commanders.
Chilton noted that in the past the U.S. has used similar rockets, such as the Atlas and the Titan, to build the intercontinental ballistic mission and launch payloads into orbit, so even if the April launch is for a satellite, "it will help advance the technology of long-range missiles."
"Even if it is a satellite launch, it is still a violation" of a U.N. Security Resolution adopted in 2006 after North Korea's last missile test, said Army Gen. Walter Sharp, commander of the joint Korea-U.S. Command.
Noting the increasing effectiveness of China's air defenses, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a next-generation long-range bomber advocate, asked Keating if he would support fielding the next generation bomber "in the 2018 time frame."
Keating said "any capability the country can provide to the men and women in uniform -- should the necessity arise to engage in that sort of conflict -- is a capability we would support, sir," including long-range strike.
-- John M. Doyle

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