US conducts missile defense test off Hawaii coast amid rising tensions with N. Korea

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Published 31.08.2017 10:38
Updated 31.08.2017 10:51
A medium-range ballistic missile target is launched, before being successfully intercepted by Standard Missile-6 missiles fired from the guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones, in Kauai, Hawaii, U.S. August 29, 2017. (Reuters Photo)
A medium-range ballistic missile target is launched, before being successfully intercepted by Standard Missile-6 missiles fired from the guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones, in Kauai, Hawaii, U.S. August 29, 2017. (Reuters Photo)

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency and the Navy successfully conducted a missile defense test off the coast of Hawaii, MDA said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai Island launched the target missile late Tuesday. Sailors aboard the destroyer USS John Paul Jones tracked it with radar and fired an interceptor missile to shoot it down.

The test comes amid North Korea's ballistic missile tests and rising tensions between the U.S and the North. Earlier Tuesday, North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan, a close U.S. ally, that landed in the Pacific Ocean. President Donald Trump said "all options are on the table" in response to the test.

North Korea said its missile launch was to counter U.S. and South Korean military drills, and was a first step in military action in the Pacific to "contain" the U.S. territory of Guam. The launch was condemned by the United Nations as an "outrageous" act.

The MDA said the test gives the naval component of the missile defense system higher ability to intercept ballistic missiles in their terminal phase.

"We will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves," Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves, the director of the Missile Defense Agency, said in a statement.

The destroyer fired a Standard Missile-6 or SM-6 interceptor. It's the second time that particular type of missile has successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target, the agency said.

In June, the John Paul Jones failed to shoot down its target missile in a similar test off Hawaii. A Standard Missile-3 Block IIA jointly developed by the U.S. and Japan failed to intercept its target. An earlier test of the same interceptor in February succeeded.

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