A missile launched from a San Diego-based destroyer successfully intercepted and destroyed an intercontinental ballistic missile in a test conducted northeast of Hawaii by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.
The test, conducted early Monday evening Hawaiian time, involved the USS John Finn, which is equipped with the Aegis ballistic missile defense system.
“We have demonstrated that an Aegis BMD-equipped vessel equipped with the SM-3 Block IIA missile can defeat an ICBM-class target,” said vice admiral and MDA director Jon Hill.
It is the first time the United States has shot down an ICBM with anything other than a ground-based interceptor. The test comes after North Korea last month revealed a large ICBM that could potentially strike the U.S. East Coast.
The Standard Missile 3 Block IIA was developed by a joint venture between Raytheon and Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
The ICBM, launched from Kwajalein Atoll thousands of miles away, was destroyed outside Earth’s atmosphere, Raytheon said in a separate statement.
“This first-of-its-kind test shows that our nation has a viable option for a new layer of defense against long-range threats,” said Bryan Rosselli, vice president of strategic missile defense at Raytheon.
Hill said the test could augment the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, a network of radars, anti-ballistic missiles and other equipment designed to protect the United States from ICBMs.
“The department is investigating the possibility of augmenting the GMD system by fielding additional sensors and weapon systems to hedge against unexpected developments in the missile threat,” he said.
It was the sixth flight test of an Aegis BMD-equipped vessel using the SM-3 Block IIA missile.
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