Are We Really Capable of Shooting Down North Korean Missiles?

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By Daisy Luther

According to some analysts, Americans may be overly confident in our military’s ability to shoot down North Korean missiles if the country were to attempt to strike. Maybe the reason we haven’t shot down North Korea’s test missiles is that we can’t. While we all certainly hope that our military would be able to successfully defend the country against incoming missiles, we need to be prepared for any possibility.

According to an article by Joe Cirincione of Defense One, the reason we don’t shoot down North Korea’s missiles when they fire them over Japan is because…

We don’t have the capability.

Joe Cirincione is the president of Ploughshares Fund and the author of several books about nuclear weapons, including Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late.

According to Cirincione, when Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, “We didn’t intercept it because no damage to Japanese territory was expected,” this was only partially true. It wasn’t a threat, but they didn’t have the capability to shoot it down due to the altitude.

Neither Japan nor the United States could have intercepted the missile. None of the theater ballistic missile defense weapons in existence can reach that high. It is hundreds of kilometers too high for the Aegis interceptors deployed on Navy ships off Japan. Even higher for the THAAD systems in South Korea and Guam. Way too high for the Patriot systems in Japan, which engage largely within the atmosphere.

All of these are basically designed to hit a missile in the post-mid-course or terminal phase, when it is on its way down, coming more or less straight at the defending system. Patriot is meant to protect relatively small areas such as ports or air bases; THAADdefends a larger area; the advanced Aegis system theoretically could defend thousands of square kilometers. (source)

Well, that’s unsettling. So, what if we engaged the missile before it reached that high?

Cirincione says that too is unlikely to be successful.

There is almost no chance of hitting a North Korean missile on its way up unless an Aegis ship was deployed very close to the launch point, perhaps in North Korean waters. Even then, it would have to chase the missile, a race it is unlikely to win. In the only one or two minutes of warning time any system would have, the probability of a successful engagement drops close to zero. (source)

But don’t take Cirincione’s word for it. In his article, he cited other experts who echo his sentiments.  Jonathon McDowell. an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, tweeted in response to someone questioning why we didn’t shoot down NK’s missiles:

As well, he quoted Jerry Doyle, deputy business editor for Asia at The New York Times:

“It’s actually virtually impossible to shoot down a missile on the way up. Midcourse or terminal are the only places you have a shot.” (source)

While I’m not sure how a business editor has special knowledge of our nuclear defense system, all of these sentiments certainly raise the question:


If we attempted to shoot down a North Korean missile and missed, it would be a major propaganda coup for Kim Jong Un.

When our military practiced this, they managed to shoot down 2 out of 3 missiles.

A lot of people are putting a great deal of hope in American missile defense systems, but it’s important to note that a couple of weeks ago in a test over the Pacific, our defense system failed. This was subsequent to a previous success.

A medium-range ballistic missile was launched from a test range in Hawaii at 7:20 pm local time, but the interceptor missile fired at sea from USS John Paul Jones, a guided-missile destroyer, missed the target.

“A planned intercept was not achieved,” the statement said. (source)

That’s disconcerting. After the failed test, there was a third test which was successful, but it’s very important to realize that our military isn’t infallible. If our rate is 2 out of 3 missiles shot down, that means that 1 out of 3 still gets through and wreaks destruction.

So, could we actually shoot down a missile “gift package” as Kim Jong Un creepily calls it?

The unsettling answer is, maybe.

Maybe, if we were expecting it, if the conditions were right, if we were close enough, if it was low enough, if we were in a perfect position.

There are way too many “ifs” in there for me to feel fully confident in our ability to shoot down North Korean missiles before they strike the mainland, which experts now believe they have the ability to reach. We also know that North Korea also possesses the ability to create hydrogen bombs. And as I’ve written before, if you believe this is all a big set up for a false flag event, that would hardly matter to those nearby if such a thing were to happen.

If you aren’t prepped for the potential of a nuclear strike, it’s time to start learning what you need to do. (This article and this class can help you.) It’s essential to remember that in the event of a nuclear strike, if you aren’t at Ground Zero, there is an excellent chance you will survive if you are prepared with information and the right supplies. And if you know what to do, you can survive without the aftereffects of radiation.

Hat tip to my friend Pete for this story

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • We have actually shot down missiles in drills. Not 100% of them, but nothing’s perfect. But we do have the capability.
    I’d bet that our missile-defense systems are more accurate than NK’s ICBMs. But why wait to find out? We should preemptively attack and exterminate Jong Un and whatever capabilities he has before he ever fires the first ICBM.


    You won’t learn the opponents capability unless and until you see what he’s got. If we shoot down the missiles, we don’t know what the real capability (range, payload, accuracy) is.

    Also, shooting down someone else’s missile could be considered an act of war. I have read a report that China told the US that they would consider shooting down a NorK missile would be an act of war that might bring China into the conflict.

    One other point, I read an article about a high power laser weapon deployed (testing, but on a naval platform) that can hit missiles. It is being tested as a defense weapon for those high speed anti-ship missiles.

    In any event, it’s a troubling situation, to say the least. I’m not as prepared as I would like, but I’ve been learning for 40 years and stocking up for almost 10, so I’m ahead of the game.


    • I agree. Not shooting down the missiles lets them go throughout their trajectory, so we can learn much abo0ut their capability. And it doesn’t hurt anything.

  • I’m curious as to what happens if we do intercept an incoming missile with a nuclear warhead, and the intercept causes the warhead to explode over the US? Would that just be another way to achieve an EMP attack, which in the long run, would cause more extensive death and destruction than a single nuclear strike? Also, if the missile were blown up over the Pacific, would that cause EMP effects in the areas near where the missile and warhead detonate, say Hawaii or the west coast or Alaska and parts of Canada?

    • Anything you do to damage the physical nuclear weapon reduces the possibility of it detonating as a nuclear weapon. These bombs are very sensitive to the geometry of the detonation. If you strike the nuke, the outside conventional explosive might go off, and then you have a dirty bomb, not a nuclear explosion.

  • Capable of shooting down a NK Missile?!….

    That’s the wrong ?… the ? should be… Are we really capable of a three front Nuclear War and are we capable ofdefending ourselves from an all out Nuclear Blitzkrieg from NK, Russia, China and Iran?!

    Are we capable of handling multiple missiles from multiple platforms from multiple directions all at once….
    DF-41’s and 31’s and JL3’s from China, Satan-2’s, Topals and Bulava’s from Russia et al,,,,,

    Because no matter the start/cause….. there will NEVER BE JUST A WAR WITH NK!!!!

  • It’s just amazing all talk about ICBM’s that aimed at a ocean. Does NK have an ADVANCE GUIDANCE SYSTEM. I think not. If NK wanted to show their ICBM capabilities they should try to hit a precise target. A missile is useless if it doesn’t have a targeting system aboard. NK doesn’t have a communication system that is global to guide their missile. Basically what they have is point and launch rocket.

    • Dear Sir:

      I could not disagree more, Just because that is how the USA and Russia and China deliver missiles, that does not mean that NK
      must follow the same path, if technology was the answer the USA would have won in Vietnam. It would be much simpler to load a
      nuke onto a old fishing boat or place one into a shipping container and send it to the port of New York, or Los Angles.

      • Actually N Korea has tried that at least twice that we are aware of. One of their shipping vessels was checked going through the Panama Canal a few years back and they discovered a rocket or missile underneath a huge pile of, I believe, containers of sugar. And then a couple of years ago, a N Korean shipping vessel was closely followed in the Gulf of Mexico as it wandered aimlessly around. The powers that be were concerned enough that DPS in Texas put out a warning to its state troopers that they must be prepared to carry on activities if all communications were down for an extended period of time. Eventually, after the ship left the Gulf it was disclosed that they had been suspected of carrying the means to attempt an EMP attack from the Gulf. The ship that was intercepted in the Panama Canal had the destination of a port in NYC.
        Those are attempts that have been disclosed. How many more they might have made are unknown to regular folks at this point. You can be sure they are just looking for the slightest chance to get to where they can pull off an attack.

    • EXACTLY! Which is why the MIC will be revealing their triangle shaped aircraft and weapon platforms in the atmosphere when the time comes. Which will open disclosure of the new tech to the public based on the articles/pics i have seen.

  • Remember that the US also has satellites that have been designed to take out multiple missiles in space or the upper atmosphere (these satellites have not been launched due to the fact that no-one is quite sure how to make the multi target system work).

    Also, of you do some quick google searches and look at some YouTube videos, it is actually quite easy to come across information about nuclear tests, how to survive a nuke (like your blog does), how the current nukes work, what defences are put in place to prevent nukes from being launched, what the missile defence system looks like, etc. etc. This information isn’t hard to find.

  • North Korea isn’t going to start a war: Kim isn’t suicidal. His endless bluster is a carefully calculated, and actually quite rational, course of action against a belligerent U.S. He has seen what happened to Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya: they agreed to wind down their pursuit of nuclear weapons, and both were overrun and murdered by the U.S. (in Libya the U.S. didn’t directly invade, but was intimately involved in ramping up revolution).

    Shooting down a North Korea test missile would, IMHO, be an incredibly foolish thing to do, even assuming that the attempt was not a spectacular failure. It only ramps up tensions.

    The U.S. should negotiate with Kim. We don’t have to like him: he’s a despotic dictator, after all, who keeps the entire nation enslaved and poverty-stricken. But nothing good can come from beating the drums of war.

    • NK is the most rational actor in this situation, but we have to give them a way to ‘save face’….that means, that we have to give them a carrot not a stick. We are never going to make them back down, their entire worldview is based on ‘not backing down’…so escalating the rhetoric only makes them more determined. What Trump’s handlers need to do is make a way for both Trump and Kim to look like ‘the heroes’ and avert a nuclear war, but at the same time come away with some gains. Basically, WTF are we doing stationed on the SK peninsula? We need to give him that carrot (it will also save us a ton of money)…and we need to regroup in Guam or Japan, a territory that looses no real strategic influence, but essentially, diffuses the tensions.

      Also, I have had a Korean GF before and Koreans are very insular people. They already think of themselves as ‘different’. They have a pretty distinctive culture, and they should be respected. Nothing will be gained by trying to get a Korean to ‘separate’ from their culture, that’s all I can say. You have to embrace their culture to make friends with them. If we want to stay in SK we have to embrace the fact that Koreans want to reunify, and we need to give them a way to do it. Otherwise, we need to get off of their territory and regroup on islands like Guam or Japan that actually don’t mind us being there.

    • Thank you for your “courteous” rebuttal, Billy.

      The thing is, that article doesn’t mention the entire point of my article – high altitude. So, I guess it actually isn’t that much of a rebuttal to my “stupid article.”


        …The SM-6 offers extended range over previous SM-2 series missiles, primarily being able to intercept very high altitude or sea-skimming anti-ship missiles, and is also capable of performing terminal phase ballistic missile defense.
        …the SM-6 made by Raytheon Co., the world’s largest missile-maker, is an endoatmospheric (inside-the-atmosphere) weapon with a range of less than 200 nautical miles. It’s designed to target ballistic missiles during their terminal, or final, phase of flight; it can also strike aircraft, ships and anti-ship cruise missiles.

        I all had to do is google “SM-6 high altitude” and I found these two websites. There are no websites that are going to divulge the SM-6’s true capabilities since they are classified. You can assume that the SM-6 is much more capable then what is being published and is a good reason why we are not intercepting the NK missiles, because we would be basicly show NK, China, Russia and so on our cards so to speak.

        Sorry for the stupid article comment.

  • Greetings,

    I respectfully disagree with the assessment. Even if one restricts oneself to the publicly available material you can track developments that cast serious doubt on this thesis.

    Seven years ago this happened,
    This system was mothballed a few years ago. No one complained much. That was because the Laser Weapon on that vehicle was already obsolete. Newer developments have made such a massive airborne platform unnecessary.

    Four years ago Boeing, again Boeing. Announced this beast.
    NOTE: If a laser is powerful enough to cut through the hardened shell of a mortar or atrillery round it is more than a match for the thin skin of a booster rocket lifting off the ground. Also note: The Airborne laser could acquire, target and destroy a missile on boost phase in nine seconds.

    Beam power is NOT the issue in destroying a target at a distance with a LASER. Beam integrity IS. Laser beams, unassisted diffuse in atmosphere. Boeing used this technology on the Airborne Laser,

    There is no reason to believe that this tech was stuck on a shelf. In fact it is most likely used on the HEL MD.

    This critter has been around for a while. There are now two of them. It flew for 256 days on it’s maiden flight launched from a rocket. The latest mission lasted over 700 days.
    We still do not know what the AirForce is doing with it,

    We have been bouncing communications lasers off of satellites since the 1960s. Recently this development made some news.

    With these five things in place you can see a picture where the US Air Force may very well have the ability to destroy a missile on boost phase anywhere on the planet by using the HEL MD from a parking lot at the Great Mall of the Americas.

    This is just one possible scenario. Another might involve a Laser weapon on the F35, which is a noteworthy platform in that it is the First fighter aircraft designed from the start with enough excess electrical generation ability to power an energy weapon.

    Pointing out the authors you cited about parking Aegis missiles near the launching sites of the North Korean missiles. It’s already been done.
    If not this one. Any sub equipped with a VLS system can launch the SM-3 missile which works as your sources indicate. What your sources do not tell you is that the acquisition and targeting part of the mission can be done via datalink using a satellite asset.

    Can the SM-s reach high enough? Yes

    Shooting down a satellite posses a much more difficult target than a ballistic missile of any kind. Satellites travel much higher, and are much faster than Ballistic Missiles. Your source was indulging in misdirection by suggesting that the SM-3 Aegis system could not make the intercept, even on boost phase.

    If you follow the rule of thumb that says, about US military capability, that information available to the public represents less than a half of existing capability then one’s imagination is pretty free to roam here.

    Boeing even has a “Man-Portable” anti drone laser system. Again worthy of note if it needs more power, take more power with you. A SEAL team in the right place with this system could nail that missile on the launch pad.

    I still place my bets on the US Military being able to deal with that unruly gentleman in Pyongyang.

  • In ID, I am Korean.
    North Korea and the United States are at war for 70 years.
    During the Korean War, only 8 million North Korean civilians were killed.
    The United States has poured much more bombs on the Korean Peninsula than World War II.
    North Korea has only two houses left.

    n the Second World War, the United States wins Japan, divides the Korean Peninsula into South and North, and South Korea is now colonized.
    The Japanese imperialists were the most brutally colonized Koreans in human history.
    As the United States began to dominate s-Korea, It made the people who served in Japan during the Japanese occupation period become the ruling class in Korea.
    Now the ruling class of Korea is the descendants of those who served the Japanese Empire.
    They have killed a lot of people for 70 years and the people are not being treated humanly.

    I will ask you now.

    Young people in s-Korea call themselves Hell Korea.
    South Korea has the highest number of suicide cases in the world for more than a decade. Every 30 minutes, one suicides.

    Kim Jong – eun is about to end the war with America this year.
    The United States has wars for about 120 years in its 130 – year history.
    Kim wants to make peace with the United States.

    In mid-1980, South Korea’s Chun Doo Hwan regime and the US CIA bombarded the Khal 858 air, designated North Korea as a terrorist supporter, and have been isolating and killing North Korea so far.
    Your presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump are rejecting a peace treaty, isolating and slaughtering the North.
    Because of your government, hundreds of people starved to death from 1997 to 2002, and the rest suffered tremendous suffering.

    Now I will ask you.
    What would you do if you were Kim Jong Eun?

    Of course, I do not want you to die or get hurt.
    But you have to prepare for an emergency.

    I advise you.
    Do not trust your mainstream media.
    They work for your government and your government works for glo.
    Every time your government spoke of human rights and democracy, blood shed on one side of the human race.

    Again, prepare for an emergency.
    Now, America needs a war to survive.
    But now America has no place to go to war. There is no money.
    Still, if Trump chooses war, the name of the United States will disappear from the map.

    Add: Do not have a big fantasy to globalists
    They have a lot of money but are weak. I mean, compared to the power of North Korea.

    Finally, I wish humanity to be a peaceful earth without war.

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