US Missile Defense Agency personnel, sailors aboard the USS John Paul Jones and members of Japan’s defense ministry conduct a flight test off the west coast of Hawaii on February 3. (Representative image) Photograph: (Others)
A day after North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan, the US military Wednesday shot down a medium-range ballistic missile target off the coast of Hawai in a successful test of a missile interception system.
The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Navy successfully conducted a missile defense test off the coast of Hawaii, the MDA said in a statement.
The test, scheduled well in advance, was done from the USS John Paul Jones using Standard Missile-6 guided missiles.
The medium-range ballistic missile was intercepted by using the USS John Paul Jones's onboard AN/SPY-1 radar.
The MDA said the test gives the naval component of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System higher ability to intercept ballistic missiles in their terminal phase.
It is the second time that an SM-6 missile has successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target.
The United States and Japan have been working together since 2006 to develop a variant of the Standard Missile-3, a ship-launched missile that operates as part of the Aegis system. Japan is seeking a land-based version as well.
"We will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves," MDA Director Lieutenant General Sam Greaves said in a statement.
Japan has been worried that the United States has so far declined to arm it with a powerful new radar, Reuters reported.
It is seeking a land-based version of the Aegis ballistic missile defense system, operational by 2023, as a new layer of defense to help counter North Korea's missile advances.
Undeterred by UN and US warnings, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has promised more missile flights over Japan, calling yesterday's provocation a mere "curtain-raiser."
It said its missile launch was to counter US and South Korean military drills, and was a first step in military action in the Pacific to "contain" the US territory of Guam. The launch was condemned by the United Nations as an "outrageous" act.