June 27, 2012
Credit: Credit: US Navy
U.S. forces using a new Raytheon interceptor missile downed another missile in a high-stakes test of systems built to thwart what experts say are advancing capabilities of countries like North Korea and Iran.
The mission off Hawaii late June 26 was against a medium-range, separating ballistic missile, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency said. The mock warhead separated from the target’s booster section, presenting what is supposed to be a more “threat-representative” attack scenario.
“Initial indications are that all components performed as designed resulting in a very accurate intercept,” the agency said in a prepared statement June 27.
Raytheon’s Standard Missile-3 Block IB is the U.S. Navy’s newest interceptor of weapons that could eventually be tipped with nuclear, chemical or biological warheads.
It is to be put in land-based launchers in Romania in 2015 as part of President Barack Obama’s push to defend NATO’s European territory from missiles that could be fired by Iran, which is at odds with many countries over its nuclear program.
The event was the second successful intercept test of the new Raytheon interceptor in less than six weeks after it had failed to knock out its target in the first attempt in September 2011.
It marked a “critical accomplishment” for the current, second phase of Obama’s so-called European Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense there, the MDA statement said.
The test was the 23rd successful intercept in 28 flight test firings for the systems based on Lockheed Martin’s Aegis ballistic missile defense system, the agency said.
At 11:15 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time on Tuesday (0915 GMT Wednesday), the target missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, located on Kauai, Hawaii.