While Mr. Overend's article (June 15) about the "limited warfare" on the Pacific Missile Test Range provides generally positive coverage of the readiness of our fleet, his frustration at not viewing a missile launch leaves the reader with an erroneous impression of the capability of PMTC to support the fleet's training and testing needs. An electric motor failure in our target launcher caused the scheduled launch of the Vandal targets to be delayed several hours. However, the launch did occur after Mr. Overend left the USS Antietam, and her defensive missiles successfully intercepted them, as he predicted they would.
The war-game scenario in some ways is made even more realistic when events don't always go as scheduled, since war is basically an unscheduled event. I might add that our targets generally don't "sputter into a quick form of missile suicide" on launch but instead enjoy a near 90% mission-success rate. Furthermore, they are never aimed directly at manned ships for obvious safety reasons.
The Vandal target used in this instance is hardly the "antique, unarmed" cream puff described in your article. Its supersonic speed and small radar cross section make it a difficult challenge to the fleet's defensive systems. It is very representative of some of the "arms" that an enemy ship or aircraft might employ.