Pershing 2 missile test ends in midair explosion

The initial test flight of the new Pershing 2 missile ended in failure Thursday when it exploded in midair after launch from a test site at Cape Canaveral, the Pentagon said.

A spokesman said it was not immediately known whether the test failure would delay deployment. Defense officials said the Pershing 2 was unarmed, and that the explosion was probably caused by ignition of its solid fuel capsule. The Pershing 2 is one of two new medium-range nuclear missiles scheduled to be based in Western Europe beginning next year.

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