The U.S. Department of Defense said Tuesday an American warship “intercepted and destroyed” an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) target in a test conducted Monday northeast of Hawaii.
A destroyer equipped with an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System destroyed the mock long-range missile in flight with an SM-3 Block IIA missile, according to the Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency.
“We have demonstrated that an Aegis BMD-equipped vessel equipped with the SM-3 Block IIA missile can defeat an ICBM-class target,” said Vice Admiral and MDA Director Jon Hill.
The Pentagon has previously conducted tests against ICBM targets by launching interceptors from underground silos in the United States. The ship-based approach could bolster the existing U.S. missile defense system if more challenging tests in the future are successful.
The success of Monday’s test is especially likely to draw interest from North Korea, whose development of ICBM’s and nuclear weapons is the primary reason the Defense Department has worked to hasten the development of missile defense systems over the past decade.
Additionally, China and Russia have voiced concern that the U.S. could use its missile defense capabilities to weaken the deterrent value of their nuclear forces.
Carla Babb contributed to this report.