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MISSILE DEFENSE
U.S. Air Force prepares SBIRS satellite for launch
by Ryan Maass
Cape Canaveral, Fla. (UPI) Jan 10, 2017


US would 'not necessarily' shoot down NKorean missile: Pentagon
Washington (AFP) Jan 10, 2017 - The US military would not necessarily shoot down a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile, should the country's leader try to test one, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Tuesday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said in a New Year's speech that the country was "in the final stages of test-launching the intercontinental ballistic missile."

Carter, whose two-year run as Pentagon chief will come to an end when President Barack Obama leaves office January 20, said in his final news conference that it might make sense to watch such a test without taking action.

"If the missile is threatening it will be intercepted," he said.

"If it is not threatening, we won't necessarily do so... it may be more to our advantage to first of all save our interceptor inventory, and second to gather intelligence from the flight rather than do that when it's not threatening."

In 2016, North Korea conducted two nuclear tests and numerous missile launches in its quest to develop a nuclear weapons system capable of hitting the US mainland.

Analysts are divided over how close Pyongyang is to realizing its full nuclear ambitions, especially since it has never successfully test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The Pentagon last week said it was confident in its capabilities to defend against a missile attack by North Korea.

For its part, South Korea plans to deploy a US missile defense system -- despite opposition from China -- to protect against any threats from the North.

The U.S. Air Force has encapsulated its Space Based Infrared System satellite in preparation for the craft's planned launch.

The satellite, built by Lockheed Martin, is scheduled to be launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on Jan. 19. The system will be sealed in a protective cone, the last step satellites must undergo before launch.

The Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit Satellite, known as SBIRS GEO, will be used to transmit surveillance information, detect missile launches, support ballistic missile defense and intelligence-gathering operations.

Lockheed Martin Overhead Persistent Infrared vice president David Sheridan says the encapsulation marks a milestone for the company's program with the Air Force.

"The satellite's successful delivery and encapsulation closes out a manufacturing process that Lockheed Martin has continued to streamline with each build, driving significant schedule and cost reductions into the SBIRS program," he said in a press release. "With its launch, the addition of GEO Flight 3 into the constellation will greatly enhance SBIRS' ability to provide resilient, space-based infrared surveillance capabilities for decades to come."

The next SBIRS GEO satellite, designated GEO Flight 4, is planned for launch later in 2017. Two additional satellites, GEO 5 and GEO 6, are currently in production.


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Previous Report
MISSILE DEFENSE
US can defend itself from N.Korea missile attack: Pentagon
Washington (AFP) Jan 3, 2017
The United States is certain it can defend itself from an attack by North Korea, the Defense Department said Tuesday after Pyongyang warned it was close to test launching a ballistic missile. "We remain confident in our ballistic missile defense and in our defense of our allies and our defense of the homeland," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said at a news briefing. North Korean leader Ki ... read more


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