Saying the test had been scheduled for months and had nothing to do with the current crisis with North Korea, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency has announced that a Navy ship has fired an interceptor that shot down a warhead from a medium-range missile over Hawaii, according to an Associated Press dispatch. The test had been postponed from Wednesday.
"The USS Shiloh detected a medium-range target after it was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, then fired a Standard Missile-3 interceptor. The interceptor shot down the target warhead after it separated from its rocket booster, more than 100 miles (161 kilometers) above the Pacific Ocean, the Missile Defense Agency said in a statement," AP says
For the seventh time in eight tries, a ship-based missile hit its intended ballistic missile target yesterday off Kauai's coast.
The test, the first to include a Japanese naval vessel equipped with tracking equipment, checked the ability of the Navy's portion of the ballistic missile defense system.
At about noon yesterday, the USS Shiloh, an Aegis-class cruiser from San Diego, tracked the target missile fired from Kauai's Pacific Missile Range Facility and destroyed the target warhead using only the rocket's kinetic energy, ballistic missile defense officials said.
The whole test took about six minutes from launch to collision, while the contact occurred more than 100 miles above the Pacific and 250 miles northwest of Kauai.
It was USS Shiloh's first test since being fitted with the tracking and communication systems, officials said, and the test also involved upgrades in weapon system configuration and a new missile configuration.
It also was the second attempt by a ship to shoot down a separating target. The first came in November when the USS Lake Erie successfully shot down a multistage target in another test.
The achievement is considered significant because medium- and long-range ballistic missiles typically have at least two stages.