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US to Conduct Another Test of Missile Defense System

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, Alaska, July 11, 2017.

The U.S. military says it is preparing to conduct another test of a missile defense system put in place to counter threats from North Korea.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Captain Jeff Davis, said Monday that the test of the military's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in the far northwestern state of Alaska is scheduled to go ahead "soon." He said the test is a "routine measure" to make sure the system is ready.

In a notice to mariners, the U.S. Coast Guard said the test could take place as soon as Saturday and advised vessels to avoid large areas of the ocean between Kodiak Island, Alaska and Hawaii.

Earlier this month, the U.S. military said it successfully tested THAAD, shooting down a simulated intermediate-range missile. The test was the first time the United States has deployed THAAD in an effort to shoot down an intermediate-range ballistic missile, a faster and more difficult target to hit than shorter-range missiles.

The test took on new urgency after North Korea fired its first successful launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which analysts believe is capable of reaching Alaska.

THAAD incorporates "hit-to-kill" technology, where kinetic energy from the interceptor missile destroys the incoming target.

North Korea, despite sanctions imposed by the United Nations, has been developing nuclear weapons and has launched numerous missile tests to advance the capabilities of its arsenal.