Another US Missile Defense Test Ends In Failure Amid Tensions With North Korea

Ryan Pickrell | China/Asia Pacific Reporter

A developmental interceptor failed to eliminate a missile during a test Wednesday, potentially exposing vulnerabilities at a time when Pyongyang is stepping upping its game.

The Missile Defense Agency and the U.S. military personnel at the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex tested a new SM-3 Block IIA interceptor fired from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii against a missile launched from a military aircraft, but the intercept test was ultimately unsuccessful, CNN reported, citing several administration officials.

The Pentagon has not yet publicly revealed the reported failure, but a defense official speaking on background confirmed the failure to The Daily Caller News Foundation. Wednesday’s failure marks the second SM-3 Block IIA intercept failure in a year. The new interceptor performed as intended during a test in February last year, but human error during a second test in June, specifically the accidental initiation of an internal self-destruct process, led to a failure.

The SM-3 Block IIA is a joint U.S.-Japanese missile defense project being developed by Raytheon to counter threats from North Korea and other foreign rivals and challengers.

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While North and South Korea are presently engaging one another in dialogue, tensions remain high in Northeast Asia. North Korea successfully tested around half a dozen new weapons systems last year, including new missiles to strike South Korea, Japan, Guam, Hawaii, and even the U.S. mainland. Twice last year, North Korea fired intermediate-range ballistic missiles over Japan, raising alarms in the island nation.

Japan is planning to buy the Aegis Ashore missile defense system to better defend itself against the growing North Korean threat.

Failures aside, the U.S. still has several different operational missile defense systems to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies in the region.

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