North Korea has increased its threats towards the U.S. and stated that they can and might shoot out a ballistic missile heading for one of the larger cities of the US. Cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Phoenix are within normal ballistic range from North Korea. Cities like New York and Washington are further away and can only be hit by a larger ballistic missile while the missile will have to travel over US territory far up in the sky.
If a missile ever to be able to hit the US shore it will have to travel over sea and have a short time over US soil to be able to survive as the US have anti-missile defence systems ready at shore.
Question is if a missile heading for the coastline of Los Angeles can the U.S. shoot down a missile still travelling ballistic at sea ?
The U.S. have never faced a real threat like this, the closest America have come was the Cuba Crisis in 1962 with the following blockade of Cuba where Soviet Union tried to place nuclear missiles on Cuba to reach the U.S. cities in case of war between U.S. and Soviet Union.
Nowadays ballistic missiles are being shot up into space and travelling very far up, further than airplanes can reach and re-entry in a protected tomb while travelling down towards its target. At the time it is travelling in space, it is not a missile anymore, rather a small ball protected to re-entry the atmosphere. This is what North Korea have said they have developed, a re-entry vehicle so the nuclear device won’t burn up in the atmosphere.
To be able to hit a missile or a nuclear device travelling ballistic, it is necessary with another missile to travel ballistic too with anti-missile targeting and guidance systems. Once the U.S. knows the ballistic trajectory, they can launch a anti-missile to intercept the nuclear device travelling in space. The question is if this really works and been tested enough by the U.S. and where those missiles are placed.
If those missiles are placed at US shore mainland, there will not be many minutes before the nuclear device hits shore, therefore there is only one or two attempts to hit the ballistic nuclear device.
If the anti-missile is launched from the sea of Japan the U.S. can try to intercept it several times along its ballistic trajectory.
The anti-missile system from the U.S. has failed its 3 last tests. The only success the program had was in a test done in June 2014.
In other terms, Pentagon has not yet demonstrated it’s ability to take out a ballistic nuclear device heading for the U.S. cities.
If Pentagon can not demonstrate this at seas, they can not shoot down a missile travelling ballistic over U.S. soil targeting Washington or New York.
No one is expecting a nuclear blowout with North Korea, mabye this is the reason why Pentagon havent demonstrated its capabilities to the public yet.
Meanwhile, North Korea is continuing it’s threats towards the U.S. and playing an angry opponent to the U.S. public with its spectacular artillery videos and threats on North Korea State television.