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Missile shot down in Aegis test off Hawaii

By Star-Advertiser news services

LAST UPDATED: 04:24 p.m. HST, Apr 15, 2011

Officials say the U.S. military’s sea-based missile defense system successfully intercepted an intermediate-range missile for the first time during a test more than 2,000 miles off Hawaii last night.

The Missile Defense Agency said the USS O’Kane destroyer equipped with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system radar tracked the target, which was launched from a Marshall Islands atoll about 2,300 miles south of Hawaii.  The O’Kane launched a SM-3 Block IA intercept missile based on the tracking data about 11 minutes after the target’s launch. The SM-3 successfully hit the target and destroyed it just before 8 p.m. Hawaii time, the agency said.

The test was the first time the Aegis system shot down an intermediate-range ballistic missile. It was also the first time the system used remote radar data.

Aegis is the sea-based component of the nation’s ballistic missile defense system, designed to intercept and destroy short- to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats. The Missile Defense Agency says this is the 21st successful intercept in 25 attempts for the Aegis BMD program since flight testing began in 2002.

The U.S. Navy has deployed 21 destroyers with the Aegis system and standard missiles made by Waltham, Massachusetts- based Raytheon Co. Newer versions of the interceptor are designed to hit enemy missiles with longer ranges.

The Aegis system is also being adapted for sea- and ground- based versions to be deployed to defend Europe from ballistic- missile attacks.

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