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Friday, 13 October 2017 05:02

Trump's claim that U.S. interceptors can knock out ICMBs '97 percent of the time'

Written by  Glenn Kessler
(Alex Brandon/AP)

“We have missiles that can knock out a missile in the air 97 percent of the time, and if you send two of them, it’s going to get knocked down.

— President Trump, interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Oct. 11

In discussing the threat posed by North Korea and its rush to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), President Trump offered a reassuring image: a missile defense so robust that a single interceptor had a 97-percent success rate — and two interceptors would assuredly knock the ICBM out of the sky.

Is this anything close to reality?

The Facts

The White House did not respond to a request for comment, but the president appears to be referring to the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) in Alaska and California, which is administered by the Missile Defense Agency. Some $40 billion has been spent on developing the project, which is supposed to prevent ballistic missiles from attacking the homeland.

MDA officials have been optimistic about the program’s effectiveness, tossing around statistics that sound a bit like Trump’s 97-percent figure.

For instance, in March 2011,  then-MDA Director Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly told Congress: “Due to the number of interceptors .

Read more at WashingtonPost

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