The U.S. Missile Defense Agency announced Wednesday that it successfully shot down a medium-range ballistic missile off the coast of Hawaii in a new test of its missile defense system at sea.
It was reported that the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kaua'i launched the target missile late yesterday, Tuesday, Aug. 29.
The Hawaii test gives Navy ships enhanced capability to defeat ballistic missiles in their last stage of flight, said Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves, the director of the Missile Defense Agency.
Guided-missile destroyers such as the John Paul Jones could be used to intercept a North Korean missile from locations in the Sea of Japan and elsewhere in the Pacific.
Wednesday's test marked the second time an SM-6 interceptor has been used to intercept an MRBM.
A U.S. official, however, told CNN the test had been planned for a long time and before North Korea's latest provocation. 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. It was the second missile test conducted by the US military this month.
The test, called Flight Test Standard Missile- 27 Event 2 (FTM-27 E2), demonstrated the integrated capabilities of the Aegis Weapon System and how it has continually evolved to counter advanced threats.
Separately, the MDA this week awarded Raytheon Missile Systems a $615 million contract, with $45 million in fiscal 2017 funding obligated initially, to produce 17 Standard Missile-3 Block IIA ballistic-missile interceptors and perform related work. The military has conducted three tests in total, but during a test in June, the interceptor failed as a result of human error.
A medium-range ballistic missile target is launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, during a defense test on August 29, 2017.