US military uses warship to shoot down ICBM in test of missile defense system


(CNN)A missile fired from a US Navy warship successfully intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time Monday during a test of the American missile defense system.

The newly demonstrated capability could bolster the missile defense system against potential missile threats emanating from countries like North Korea.

US military personnel and sailors aboard the USS John Finn “intercepted and destroyed a threat-representative Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) target,” using the warship’s Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA interceptor “during a flight test demonstration in the broad ocean area northeast of Hawaii,” the Missile Defense Agency said in a statement.

The test ICBM was fired from the US military’s test site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands before being intercepted northeast of Hawaii.

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    Previous tests of the missile defense system involved ground based interceptors in Alaska and California shooting down test ICBMs.

    Officials say having the ability of a warship to also shoot down a missile threat adds to the overall missile defense system’s capability.

      “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,” the Director of the Missile Defense Agency, Vice Admiral Jon Hill, said in a statement.

      “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,” he added.