US can Intercept North Korean ICBMs with 36 deployed interceptors

The head of the Pentagon’s missile defense agency on Thursday said recent missile intercept tests give him confidence the U.S. can protect itself from wide variety of threats, including an intercontinental ballistic missile from North Korea.

This July 28, 2017, photo distributed by the North Korean government shows what was said to be the launch of a Hwasong 14 intercontinental ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency used a ground-based interceptor launched from a silo in Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to successfully shoot down a U.S.-launched mock intercontinental ballistic missile fired from Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific in May.

The U.S. currently has 36 such interceptors deployed and plans to have 44 in place by the end of 2017, based at Vandenburg and in Fort Greely, Alaska.

Congress in 2013 required the Defense Department to research a third site for ground-based interceptors to defend the U.S. East Coast, in addition to the silos in Alaska and California.