The US military shot down a medium-range ballistic missile target off the coast of Hawaii on Wednesday, in a successful test of a missile interception system Japan is seeking to bolster its defence against North Korea.
The test was performed by the US Missile Defence Agency (MDA) and the US Navy from the USS John Paul Jones, a guided-missile destroyer, just one day after North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan.
Using Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) guided missiles, the test intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii by using the USS John Paul Jones’s onboard AN/SPY-1 radar.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has promised more missile flights over Japan, insisting his nuclear-armed nation’s provocation was a mere “curtain-raiser,” in the face of United Nations condemnation and US warnings of severe repercussions.
The MDA said the test gives the naval component of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence System “enhanced capability to defeat ballistic missiles in their terminal phase.”
“We will continue developing ballistic missile defence technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves,” MDA Director Lieutenant General Sam Greaves said in a statement.
The test marks 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.