UPDATE 1-US Missile Test Mimicking Iran Strike Fails
* Pentagon report shows growing Iran missile capability
WASHINGTON, Feb 1 (Reuters) - A U.S. attempt to shoot down a ballistic missile mimicking an attack from Iran failed after a malfunction in a radar built by Raytheon Co (RTN.N), the Defense Department said.
The abortive test over the Pacific Ocean coincided with a Pentagon report that Iran had expanded its ballistic missile capabilities and posed a "significant" threat to U.S. and allied forces in the Middle East region.
The Missile Defense Agency said that in Sunday's test both the target missile, fired from Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands, and the interceptor, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, had performed normally.
"However, the Sea-Based X-band radar did not perform as expected," the agency said on its web site. Officials will investigate the cause of the failure to intercept, it said.
The SBX radar is a major component of the ground-based midcourse defense, the sole U.S. bulwark against long-range missiles that could be tipped with chemical, biological or nuclear warheads.
It was the first time the United States had tested its long-range defense against a simulated Iranian attack.
Previous drills have imitated a flight path from North Korea, another country in a standoff with the international community over its nuclear program.
The Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Review released on Monday said Tehran had developed and acquired ballistic missiles capable of striking targets from the Middle East to Eastern Europe and had fielded increasing numbers of mobile regional ballistic missiles.
The Iranian program has received support in the past from Russia, China and North Korea, and Tehran still depends on outside sources for many missile components and parts, according to the Defense Intelligence Agency.
DEFENSES AGAINST IRAN
To counter the Iranian threat, the United States has expanded land- and sea-based missile defense systems in and around the Gulf, according to U.S. officials.