WASHINGTON: The United States said on Tuesday it shot down a simulated, incoming intermediate-range ballistic missile similar to the ones being developed by countries like North Korea, in a new test of the nation’s defenses.
Planned months ago, the US missile defence test over the Pacific Ocean has gained significance after North Korea’s July 4 launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile heightened concerns about the threat from Pyongyang.
The test was the first-ever of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system against an incoming IRBM, which experts say is a faster and more difficult target to hit than shorter-range missiles.
The US Missile Defence Agency said the IRBM was designed to behave similarly to the kinds of missiles that could threaten the United States.
“The successful demonstration of THAAD against an IRBM-range missile threat bolsters the countrys defensive capability against developing missile threats in North Korea and other countries,” the Missile Defence Agency said in a statement.
In the latest test, a THAAD in Kodiak, Alaska, intercepted a ballistic missile target that was air-launched from a C-17 aircraft flying north of Hawaii, the Missile Defence Agency said in a statement.
This success leaves THAAD with a 100 per cent track record for all 14 intercept attempts since flight testing began just over a decade ago.
Lockheed Martin Corp, the prime contractor for the THAAD system, said it could intercept incoming missiles both inside and outside the Earth’s atmosphere.
The United States deployed THAAD to South Korea this year to guard against North Korea’s shorter-range missiles. That has drawn fierce criticism from China, which says the system’s powerful radar can probe deep into its territory.
Earlier this month Moscow and Beijing, in a joint statement, called on Washington to immediately halt deployment of THAAD in South Korea.