U.S. conducts missile intercept test amid tensions with North Korea

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The U.S. Navy has successfully intercepted and destroyed a medium-range ballistic missile in a test of its missile defense system, the U.S. military said Wednesday. It comes just over a day after North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan.

The missile was fired on late Tuesday evening from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, according to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. The USS John Paul Jones detected and tracked the missile with its onboard radar, after which SM-6 missiles were launched to intercept.

It was not possible to independently confirm whether Tuesday’s intercept over the Pacific Ocean was successful. The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said the test marked the second time that an SM-6 missile had successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target.

“We are working closely with the fleet to develop this important new capability, and this was a key milestone in giving our Aegis [Ballistic Missile Defense] ships an enhanced capability to defeat ballistic missiles in their terminal phase,” said MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves, adding that the U.S. is continuing to develop technologies to stay ahead of missile threats.

The U.S. has carried out several missile defense tests so far this year amid growing concerns over North Korea’s advancing missile program. Experts have pointed out that the U.S. missile defense system continues to have a high rate of failure.

During a test on June 21, the USS John Paul Jones failed in its attempt to destroy a medium-range ballistic missile. Several weeks earlier, in late May, the U.S. military said it had staged a successful, first-ever test to destroy an incoming intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

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