US Navy destroyer shoots down an ICBM in milestone test

US Navy destroyer shoots down an ICBM in milestone test

The U.S. Navy has shot down an intercontinental ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean with an SM-3 Block IIA missile in a milestone test that demonstrated a potential scheme to defend Hawaii, the Missile Defense Agency announced Tuesday morning.

The test, which comes on the heels of the revealing of a larger North Korean ICBM in October that could potentially strike the U.S. East Coast, is the first time the United States has shot down an ICBM with anything other than a ground-based interceptor, an MDA official said.

Just before 1 a.m. Eastern Time, MDA oversaw a test where a missile was fired from Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll toward the open ocean northeast of Hawaii. The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer John Finn, equipped with Aegis Baseline 9, received a track from an external sensor through the Command and Control Battle Management Communications network.

The ship then fired on and destroyed the target with the SM-3IIA, the release said.

In a statement, the head of the MDA said it was a big accomplishment for the agency and showed how a potential defense of Hawaii scheme could work in conjunction with ground-based interceptors now based in Alaska.

“This was an incredible accomplishment and critical milestone for the Aegis BMD SM-3 Block IIA program,” said Vice Adm. Jon Hill. “The Department 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.

“We have demonstrated that an Aegis BMD-equipped vessel equipped with the SM-3 Block IIA missile can defeat an ICBM-class target, which is a step in the process of determining its feasibility as part of an architecture for layered defense of the homeland.”