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Sea-launched interceptor destroyed mock ICBM in test, Pentagon says

Sea-launched interceptor destroyed mock ICBM in test, Pentagon says

A sea-launched missile interceptor has destroyed a mock intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM) in a test, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency announced on Tuesday. 

An Aegis SM-3 missile, manufactured by Raytheon Missiles & Defense, was fired from a U.S. Navy destroyer situated northeast of Hawaii, targeting a mock ICBM that was launched from a test range at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, according to The Associated Press.

The target was not equipped with decoys or other sophisticated systems that a U.S. missile interceptor might face in a real attack, AP noted.

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Navy Vice Adm. Jon Hill, director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, said in a statement that the result is “an incredible accomplishment and critical milestone” for the program. He added that it is “investigating the possibility of augmenting the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system by fielding additional sensors and weapon systems to hedge against unexpected developments in the missile threat."

Tuesday’s test is likely to catch the attention of North Korea, according to the AP. The country’s building of ICBMs and nuclear weapons is the main reason the U.S. accelerated the development of its missile defense systems over the past year.

The test is also likely to catch Russia’s and China’s attention, as they both have been concerned that the U.S. would use its missile defenses to undermine the deterrent value of their nuclear forces.

Updated at 3:01 p.m.