Source: Stars and Stripes
By TYLER HLAVAC
A new missile-defense system developed by the United States and Japan destroyed a target missile during a test off the coast of Hawaii on Friday, a Missile Defense Agency statement said.
The intercept of a medium-range ballistic missile, launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii, was a first for the system, which had conducted two previous flight tests, the statement said.
The USS John Paul Jones, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, detected and tracked the target with its onboard radar, then shot it down with the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA, the statement said.
Vice Adm. Jim Syring, MDA’s director, called the system vital to the security of the U.S. and Japan.
“Today’s test demonstrates a critical milestone in the cooperative development of the SM-3 Block IIA missile and will ultimately improve our ability to defend against increasing ballistic missile threats around the world,” he said in the statement.
The interceptor, designed to shoot down medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, is compatible with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System onboard many Navy ships, several of which are based in Japan, the statement said.
Ship-based missile interceptors are part of U.S. defense plans in the event of an attack on the U.S. or its allies by North Korea, which has continued to develop its ballistic-missile program despite United Nations sanctions.
The SM-3 Block IIA, which has larger rockets and a larger warhead than its predecessor, is also scheduled to deploy at sea and on land in Poland in 2018, U.S. defense contractor Raytheon said on its website.