US conducts successful missile defense test in Alaska

US conducts successful missile defense test in Alaska
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The U.S. missile defense system known as THAAD successfully shot down an intermediate-range ballistic missile during a test on Tuesday, the Missile Defense Agency said.

“This test further demonstrates the capabilities of the THAAD weapon system and its ability to intercept and destroy ballistic missile threats,” MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves said in a statement. “THAAD continues to protect our citizens, deployed forces and allies from a real and growing threat.”

The test of the system has been planned for months, but took on new significance after North Korea successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile last week.

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Tuesday’s successful test of THAAD, which stands for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, was the first time the system has been tested on an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM). It also keeps up THAAD’s perfect testing record, with 14 of 14 tests ending successfully.

In the test, the IRBM was launched by a U.S. Air Force C-17 over the Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii, according to MDA.

The THAAD system in Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska in Kodiak then detected, tracked and intercepted the target.

“Soldiers from the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade conducted launcher, fire control and radar operations using the same procedures they would use in an actual combat scenario,” MDA said in a news release. “Soldiers operating the equipment were not aware of the actual target launch time.”

Preliminary indications showed that the flight test objectives were met and that the IRBM was successfully intercepted, the agency added.

THAAD is considered the most advanced of the U.S. missile defense systems with the longest range at about 200 kilometers. It’s designed to shoot down short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

A system has been deployed to South Korea to address the threat from Pyongyang’s increasingly fruitful missile program.

But the system has proven controversial in South Korea as China fiercely opposes its deployment and has been exerting pressure on Seoul using everything from boycotts of South Korean businesses to rap music videos opposing THAAD.

The system was deployed with just two of its maximum six launchers, and the deployment of the remaining launchers has been suspended by South Korea pending an environmental review.