US successfully tests missile interception in Hawaii

A U.S. warship successfully shot down a medium-range ballistic missile in a test launch off the coast of Hawaii Wednesday, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said.

The USS John Paul Jones detected and tracked the missile, which had been launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, before firing SM-6 guided missiles to intercept it, the agency said.

The test came two days after North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan, further escalating tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.

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The test near Hawaii marked the second time that an SM-6 missile intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile, according to the MDA. 

MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves said in a statement that the missile defense test was a "key milestone" for the military's Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, because it gives the naval component of the system an enhanced ability to intercept missiles in their terminal phase.

"We will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves," he said. 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Wednesday that his government would conduct more ballistic missile tests in the Pacific, North Korea state media reported. 

The North's latest missile launch and Kim's apparent threat to conduct more tests in the Pacific came as the U.S. and South Korea are in the midst of joint military exercises. Those drills have been fiercely condemned by Pyongyang.