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Shootout Over the Pacific: The Missile Defense Agency plans to conduct a major test of the ground-based midcourse defense element of the US ballistic missile defense system on Jan. 31, according to US defense officials. The test will involve the attempted intercept of a ballistic missile target launched from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands by a long-range interceptor missile fired from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. If all goes as planned, the intercept will take place in space over the south central Pacific Ocean. The Lompoc Record reported Wednesday that this will be the first GMD test featuring the scenario of a Vandenberg-launched interceptor going after a target emanating from Kwajalein. The last GMD test occurred in December 2008, with an interceptor from Vandenberg hitting a target missile shot from Kodiak, Alaska.