WASHINGTON (AP) Stymied by bad weather for a second consecutive night yesterday, the Pentagon is still counting on one more successful test of its missile defense system before adding new technical challenges to the testing program.

Some say the program is too simplistic to reveal much about how well the system would work in an actual missile attack on the United States.

The fifth test of a prototype missile defense system delayed primarily by high winds Saturday and yesterday in California was rescheduled for today.

It was not clear what would happen if the test can not be conducted today.

The plan called for a modified intercontinental ballistic missile carrying a mock warhead to be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and head over the central Pacific Ocean. Twenty minutes later an interceptor rocket would roar into the night sky from Kwajalein Atoll, hone in on the mock warhead with the help of a radar in Hawaii, and ram into the warhead 144 miles into space.

The device that actually hits the warhead is known as a “kill vehicle,” a 120-pound, 55-inch long device that separates from the rocket booster and seeks out the target using its on-board infrared sensor.

Of the first four attempts to intercept a mock warhead in space, two succeeded and two failed.

After the most recent test, in July, scored a direct hit, the Pentagon decided the fifth would repeat the same scenario rather than add complexities or remove any of the test”s artificial elements.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, head of the Pentagon”s Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, told reporters last week that a successful intercept would allow him to increase the realism of the sixth test, now scheduled for February.

One new element for the next test would be additional “countermeasures” such as balloon decoys meant to confuse the interceptor.

“We will have increased our confidence to move on to more aggressive and complicated efforts in these tests,” he said.

Kadish acknowledged that the balloon was not representative of the kind of decoy that an enemy might use with an actual ballistic missile.

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