Responding to questions from Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) at a Senate Armed Services Hearing on Thursday, Gen. Lori Robinson, the commander of NORAD and the U.S. Northern Command, told the committee that she is “100 percent confident” in her ability to stop a North Korean nuclear missile attack.
Fischer cited a recent editorial from The New York Times as an example of skepticism of U.S. missile defense capabilities. The paper’s editorial criticized President Trump’s request for an expansion of America’s spending on its missile shield, questioning the effectiveness of this program:
Mr. Trump is overselling the program, an interlocking network of interceptors, radars, sensors and so-called kill vehicles. He has boasted that the system is 97 percent effective in preventing limited-scale attacks; the truth is more like 50 percent. So its defense against North Korean weapons is hardly a sure thing.
The program’s failings were on display as recently as last month, when, during a test off the Hawaiian coast, an interceptor missile launched from a test site in Kauai failed to hit its target, an incoming dummy missile. That was the second failure in three tests of the interceptor, the SM-3, which is intended to be a mainstay of American regional missile defense systems being deployed in Romania, Poland and Japan to guard against medium-range missiles. The Pentagon has not disclosed what went wrong.