The U.S. military shot an incoming missile out of the sky in a successful intercept test Wednesday.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones launched a new SM-6 interceptor with enhanced software to bring down a medium-range ballistic missile off the coast of Hawaii, according to the Missile Defense Agency.
The missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii. Using the onboard AN/SPY-1 radar, the destroyer detected and tracked the missile.
Message to North Korea: Pentagon says USS John Paul Jones successfully shot down medium-range ballistic missile in new test off Hawaii today pic.twitter.com/JWtEBFjVve
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) August 30, 2017
“We are working closely with the fleet to develop this important new capability, and this was a key milestone in giving our Aegis BMD ships an enhanced capability to defeat ballistic missiles in their terminal phase,” MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves said in a statement. “We will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves.”
Wednesday’s test marked the second time an SM-6 interceptor has been used to intercept an MRBM. The military has conducted three tests in total, but during a test in June, the interceptor failed as a result of human error. A sailor on the USS John Paul Jones triggered a self-destruct sequence by mistake. (RELATED: US Missile Defense Test Ends In Failure After Sailor Presses Wrong Button)
The U.S. military’s latest intercept test comes just two days after North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan in an unusually-provocative missile test. The North warned that it will continue firing missiles into the Pacific Ocean, adding that the recent test was a “prelude” to possible strikes on or around Guam. (RELATED: North Korea Warns Shot Over Japan Was ‘Prelude’ To Possible Strikes On Guam)
The U.S. has lost a few Aegis destroyers in recent months, hindering missile defense in a volatile region. Both the USS Fitzgerald and USS John McCain were damaged severely after collisions with merchant vessels in June and August. The two accidents killed seventeen American sailors. The U.S. military still has numerous missile defense assets — from Patriot interceptors to Terminal High Altitude Area Defense systems — in the area though.
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